|The Iraq War|
Report for 2003-03-29
March 29, 2003, 0924hrs MSK (GMT +4 DST), Moscow - During the past day the situation on the US-Iraqi front remained largely unchanged. The US is continuing reinforcing the attack group near Karabela for a thrust toward Baghdad. By the morning of March 29 up to 20,000 coalition troops were massed in the area of Karabela. This forces includes up to 200 tanks, 150 artillery systems and more than 250 helicopters. The order for the attack will be given by the coalition commander Gen. Tommy Franks, who, according to intercepted radio communications, will personally inspect the troops during the next several hours.
Around 1900hrs yesterday an Apache attack helicopter crashed. Intercepted radio communications show that the helicopter was heavily damaged in a combat mission. The helicopter's pilot lost control during landing and the helicopter crashed, causing serious damage to another helicopter that landed earlier.
The coalition troops have so far failed to take An-Nasiriya despite categorical orders from the command and more than 800 combat missions by the strike aircraft. All attempts to break through the Iraqi defense were met by Iraqi counterattacks. After 24 hours of fighting the coalition troops only managed to advance several hundred meters in two sectors near An-Nasiriya at the cost of 4 destroyed armored personnel carriers, no less that 3 Marines killed by sniper and mortar fire, 10 wounded and 2 missing in action. The exact Iraqi losses are being determined.
The Americans have also failed to advance near An-Najaf. Every coalition attack was met by massive artillery barrages from the Iraqi side. Later during the day the Iraqis mounted a counterattack throwing the US forces back by 1.5-2 kilometers. No fewer than 10 Marines were killed or wounded. After exchanging fire for six hours both warring sides remained in the same positions. Iraqi losses in this area are estimated to be 20 killed and up to 40 wounded.
Near Basra the British troops pushed the Iraqi defense lines on the Fao peninsula but were unable to capture the entire peninsula. The British advance was a maximum of 4 kilometers from the highway leading to Basra. Radio intercepts show that in this attack the Iraqis shot down a British helicopter. Additionally, two tanks and one APCs were destroyed by landmines. At least 2 [British] servicemen were killed, around 20 were wounded and 15 were captured by the Iraqis.
Exchange of fire continued in the area of the Basra airport. The Iraqis destroyed one coalition APC wounding two coalition soldiers. The Iraqi losses are difficult to estimate, but available information suggests that up to 20 Iraqi soldiers and local militia members might have been killed in the air and artillery strikes.
All attempts by the British troops to break through the Iraqi defenses from the south along the Al-Arab river have yielded no results. The British command reported that it is unable to storm Basra with the available forces and will require no less than two additional brigades and at least five additional artillery battalions. Thus, to avoid further casualties the British are adopting defensive tactics, while trying to maintain a tight blockade around Basra and trying to improve their positions with small localized attacks. The British are also maintaining pressure on the Iraqi positions on the Fao peninsula.
The psychological levels among the city's residents, according to interviews, is far from critical. The Iraqi military made several public announcements to the residents offering them a chance to leave the city. However, most of the residents do not want to leave, fearing the fate of the Palestinian refugees, who, after losing their homes, gained pariah status in the Arab world. Basra's residents were extremely depressed by the video footage aired by the coalition command showing Iraqis on the occupied territories fighting for food and water being distributed by the coalition soldiers. The city's population views this as a sample of what awaits them if the Americans come...
At the Al-Kuwait airport the unloading of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Division is continuing and is expected to be completed by the night of April 1. During a night flight one of the US military transport aircraft requested an emergency landing. What happened to the plane is still being determined.
Currently the coalition command is deciding how better use the 4th Infantry Division. The complete deployment [of the division] and preparations for combat are expected to take at least 10 days. However, the combat units require immediate reinforcements and it is possible that the [4th Infantry} Division will be joining combat in stages, as the units become ready. This will mean a considerable reduction of the Division's combat effectiveness.
A report was obtained, prepared by the Al-Kuwait-based [coalition] Psychological Operations Tactical Group for the [coalition] Special Ground Forces Command. The report analyzed the effectiveness of the information and propaganda war. According to the report, analysis of the television broadcasts, intercepted radio communications, interrogations of Iraqi POWs show that psychologically the Iraqis are now "more stable and confident" that they were during the last days before the war. This, according to the report, is due primarily to the coalition's numerous military failures.
"... Following nervousness and depression [of the Iraqis] during the first days of the war we can now observe a burst of patriotic and nationalistic feelings. ... There has been a sharp increase in the number of Iraqi refugees, who left the country before the war, returning to Iraq. A "cult of war" against the US and the UK is now emerging among the Iraqis ...", the report states. [Reverse translation from Russian.]
[Coalition] analysts believe that if this attitude of the Iraqis is not changed within the next 7 days, a "resistance ideology" may take over the Iraqi minds, making the final [coalition] victory even more difficult. In response to this report the US Army Psychological Operations command decided to combine all Iraqi POWs into large groups and to distribute the resulting video footage to the world media. A more active use of the Iraqi opposition was suggested for propaganda work in the occupied villages. The same opposition members will be used to create video footage of the "repentant" Iraqi POWs and footage of the local [Iraqi] population "opposing Saddam."
Radio communications intercepted during the last five days suggest that the coalition is using an Israeli airfield for conducting night air strikes against Iraq. Combat aircraft are taking off regularly from the [Israeli] Hatzerim and the Navatim airbases [and] do not return to the same bases but fly toward the border with Jordan while maintaining complete radio silence.
Possibly these are just Israeli Air Force exercises, However [Russian] radio intercept and radar units observe increased intensity of radio communications coming from the Jordanian air force and air defense communication centers during such overflights, as well as changes in the operating modes of the US Army "Patriot" tracking radars deployed in Jordan. This indicates the Israeli airbases as used as forward airfields or that some of the coalition air force units are based there. Normally the IAF F-15I fighter-bombers and A-4N strike aircraft operate from the Hatzerim airbase and the F-16 fighter-bombers operate from the Nevatim base.
Experts believe that these airbases may be used by the F-117 stealth bombers "officially" based at the Al-Udaid airbase in Qatar. Using these two locations minimizes the risk to the F-117s by allowing them to fly along the left bank of the Euphrates (in the direction of Turkey) and to avoid dangerous maneuvering over Iraq.
The destruction of the telephone stations in Baghdad did nothing to disrupt the communications of the Iraqi army. The coalition command acknowledged this fact after analyzing the dense [Iraqi] radio traffic. Because of that the USAF was ordered to employ the most powerful available [conventional] munitions against predetermined strategic targets. This attack will be carried out immediately before renewing ground advance.
(Translation by Venik.)
|The Iraq War||Serendipity Home Page|