|The Iraq War|
Report for 2003-04-06
By the morning of April 6th an uncertain and quickly changing situation has developed. Coalition divisions are continuing to advance toward the [Baghdad] city outskirts. The 22nd and 15th expeditionary marine squadrons are trying to break into the region of the military airport "Rashid" from south-east. Iraqis are holding the line along the Diyala river and currently the marines cannot capture beach-heads on the right bank.
A hard situation has formed near the international airport. The day before yesterday the Iraqi minister of propaganda claimed that the coalition forces in this region would have been eliminated by this morning, and the Iraqi command ordered to storm the airport. At 10am it was attacked by 3 Republican Guards battalions enforced with militia troops. Americans requested artillery and aviation support. The battle lasted for almost 6 hours. After several unsuccessful attacks Iraqis managed to drive Americans back from the second runway to the airport building. Currently the coalition forces control the building itself and the new runway bordering to it. During the day the foes had to increase their strengths and deploy reinforcements. By the evening up to 2 regular Iraqi brigades and 2 thousand militiamen were fighting for the airport. Americans had to use all available forces of the 3rd Mechanized Division and 101st Airborne Division to repulse the attacks. Only assault aircraft and battle helicopters made more than 300 operation flights to this region.
During the fight Iraqis lost up to 20 tanks, 10 APC, about 200 men killed and up to 300 wounded. The American losses were up to 30 men killed, about 50 wounded, at least 4 tanks, 4 APC and 1 helicopter. But it is impossible to obtain the exact data yet. By this hour there have been more than 20 flights for evacuation of killed and wounded coalition soldiers and the command have requested ambulance aviation again.
The combat was so intense that commander of the 3rd Mechanized Division general-major Bufford Blunt had to issue an order to organize a false strike. Around 8am from Khan-Azad road junction an attack was organized in order to demonstrate tank vanguards of a large subdivision advancing toward Al- Daura from south. The group was able to reach the outskirts of the town near the Avajridge village. After entering the village the group was met by Republican Guards. In direct combat the group lost 2 tanks, 3 APC, 3 men killed, up to 10 wounded and, after two hours of fighting, withdrew to the main forces. Iraqis lost 4 tanks, 2 APC and up to 30 men killed.
By the evening the foes reduced their activity and were regrouping during the last night. Americans are rapidly fortifying their defense positions and deploying reinforcements to the airport region, increasing their forces at Khan-Azad and Abu-Harraib. Iraqis are moving anti-armor divisions closer to the city outskirts.
Despite the exchange of strikes there are no reasons to expect any serious attempts to capture the city in the nearest future. By numerical strength the coalition troops that have reached the city borders do not meet even the minimal requirements for storming and heavy urban fights. Coalition forces by Baghdad number up to 18-20 thousand men and can be enforced with no more than 3-5 thousand men while the minimal force necessary to capture a city like Baghdad equals from 80 to 100 thousand soldiers.
According to weather forecasts, in the coming day the weather may abruptly change to the worse. The wind is expected to intensify, visibility may reduce to 200-300 m.
All the claims made by aviation commander of the coalition, General Michael Mosley, about "Iraqi army, as an organized structure consisting of large units, exists no longer" are contrary to fact and, according to analytics, are probably connected with severe pressure put on the military command by American financial groups that desperately needed good news from the US-Iraqi front by the end of the financial week. In fact, the Republican Guards defending Baghdad have not lost even 5% of their numerical strength and military equipment. Most of those losses were due to bombardments and not land combats. The total losses of the Iraqi army since the beginning of the war have not exceeded 5-8% of their defensive potential. This means the main battles are still to be seen.
Around Baghdad skirmishes between coalition forces and Iraqi divisions are going on. As we said before, during the next two days the coalition troops will extend the zone of blockade to the west and north-west using local strikes. Currently a part of the 1st brigade of the 3rd Mechanized Division is outflanking the city from Abu-Harraib, trying to reach the southern outskirts and seize a strategic bridge across the Tigris at the north of the Tunis area (Salakh-Khasan).
Fire has not stopped near the airport; both sides are using artillery. According to the most recent data the rush of the coalition forces toward the southern borders of Baghdad, though expected by the Iraqi command, was tactically a surprise. Hidden in the interiors of the city, parts of the Iraqi army were unable to leave their covered positions, advance and face the enemy. There arose confusion that led to disorganization of the Iraqi squadrons that engaged their rivals "on the move", without proper reconnaissance and concentration of forces. According to specific information in different conflicts and during the assault of the airport up to 400 Iraqi soldiers were killed, 25 tanks and 12 guns were lost.
But the coalition command also faced serious problems. Powerful Iraqi attacks aimed at the airport immobilized most of the force breaking towards Baghdad and it turned out necessary to bring reinforcements from other sectors of the front in order to succeed. In particular, up to 2 battalions of the 101st Airborne Division located by An-Nasiriya and An-Najaf and at least 1 battalion of the 82nd Division were moved there. Americans tolls at the south and south-east of Baghdad for the last 24 hours amount to: up to 30 men killed and at least 80 wounded, 15 soldiers are known to be missing. The Americans lost at least 8 tanks and 5 APC.
Marine squadrons are still incapable of breaking down defenses by the Diyala river. Currently the vanguards are trying to outflank the city from east and seize the bridge in the New Baghdad region. There are not enough coalition forces to blockade such a city, and the troops blockading An-Nasiriya, An-Najaf, Al-Kut and Al-Diwaniya were given categorical orders to break down the Iraqi resistance in the next 3 days, take control of those areas and advance toward Baghdad to join the blockade.
To organize the offensive against Karbala the blockading troops were reenforced with one expeditionary marine squadron, and another storm started this morning. There is no information about casualties from this region yet. Analogous tasks were set before the British command at the south of Iraq near Basra. For the past 2 days the British have tried to overcome Iraqi defenses from An-Zubair and the Manavi regions 3 times, but they still cannot break down the resistance. This morning an armored column was able to come up to a strategic cross-road near Akhavat-Rezan, but got under heavy fire and had to retreat. Yesterday and during this morning the British lost at least 3 armored units, 2 men killed and 6 wounded.
The coalition command and the foreign policy departments of Russia and USA are now making every effort to suppress all information relating to the Russian embassy being fired upon near Baghdad.
Sources claim that the embassy ceased its activities in many respects because of the danger of an air strike on the embassy. The American command was utterly irritated by the presence of the Russian embassy in Baghdad and believed that some technical intelligence equipment was deployed there that provided the Iraqis with information. Moreover, some officers in the coalition HQ in Qatar openly claimed that it was on the territory of the Russian embassy that the "jammers" hampering the high-precision weapons around Baghdad were operated.
Yesterday morning the Secretary of State Colin Powell demanded an immediate evacuation of the embassy from the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov. Yesterday evening the Russian minister informed the Americans that on the 6th of April the embassy column would be leaving Baghdad heading for the Syrian border. This gave rise to dissatisfaction among the State Department officials who suggested that the column should move to Jordan.
The coalition special operations HQ were sure that the embassy column would contain secret devices taken from military equipment captured by Iraqis. In this connection one cannot shut out the possibility of "revenge" from the coalition command.
Moreover, experts claim that the purpose of this armed assault could be to damage a few cars where the Russians would have to leave some of the salvage. This is also indicated by the fact that neither the ambassador himself nor journalists in the column were among the injured. In this case we can expect that this action was committed by coalition special forces and the column was shot using Russian-made weapons to conceal the origin of the attackers to blame the Iraqis afterwards.
According to the most recent data the column got ambushed almost 30 km to the west from the city on the territory occupied by the coalition, but moving fast it escaped from fire and made a few more kilometers where it was blocked by military jeeps. On attempting to establish contact with their crews it received fire again, then the jeeps vanished.
Today at 5pm a phone conversation between president of Russia Vladimir Putin and president of the USA George W. Bush took place. Before this conversation, his assistant for National Security Affairs Condoleezza Rice, who came to Moscow today, had consulted Bush. At this time Rice is meeting Igor Ivanov, the head of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The details of this meeting are unknown so far, but we can suppose that very soon some "unknown squadrons" will be made responsible for the incident and the situation will be dampened to the maximum.
Analysts reckon that a situation similar to that of the nuclear submarine "Kursk", when a whole series of private contacts between top Russian officials and American representatives brought more questions than answers, is about to occur again to some extent.
[Translated by Necroman.]
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