Coalition airstrikes hit Baghdad several times today (Tuesday) while U-S military officers say troops have pushed into the central Iraqi city of Najaf.
Officers with the US 101st Airborne division say the troops entered Najaf early on Tuesday and say they encountered little or no resistance as they try to secure the city.
The central city has been the site of intense fighting that U-S military officials last week said had killed hundreds of Iraqi soldiers.
In a message read by Iraq's information minister, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein called on Iraqis to wage a holy war against the US-led forces in the country.
Iraqi state television had reported Saddam himself would appear, and there was no explanation as to why the information minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf read the statement.
U-S Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called the Iraqi leader's absence "interesting." U-S officials have speculated that Saddam may have been injured or killed in a U-S airstrike on the first night of the war.
Mr. Rumsfeld also accused the Iraqi government of spreading rumors that US and Iraqi officials have started cease-fire talks. He said there are no such negotiations taking place and that the only thing the US-led coalition will discuss with the Iraqi regime is its unconditional surrender.
Meanwhile, coalition warplanes carried out at least three waves of airstrikes on targets in and around Baghdad today. Among the sites hit were Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace and troops of Iraq's elite Republican Guard positioned south of the city to defend against an expected U-S-British assault.
The head of the U-S military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, says US attacks have reduced two of the Republican Guard divisions to less than half their original strength.