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US Military Transport Plane Lands at Baghdad Airport - 2003-04-06


A U.S. military transport plane has landed at Baghdad's international airport as U-S forces nearly encircle Iraq's capital city.

The C-130 military transporter is the first known U.S. plane to land there since U-S forces seized the facility last week.

Earlier today (Sunday), U.S. troops fought their way around the outskirts of the capital and also made several probing incursions.

Exchanges of fire, including artillery, mortar, machine gun and rocket fire could be heard in several areas.

Iraq said it was firing missiles on U.S. forces, while a statement attributed to President Saddam Hussein called on Iraqi forces to join up with any army unit they could find. President Hussein also appeared on television with his two sons, but it was not clear when the footage was taken.

In the south of Iraq, British soldiers entered Iraq's second biggest city -- Basra, from several fronts after a two-week siege. British forces say they were able to set up checkpoints and take control of many parts of the city. British officials say coalition forces took their time to enter Basra to avoid civilian casualties.

Elsewhere in southern Iraq, there were reports of fierce fighting between coalition soldiers and Iraqi militia for control of the city of Karbala.

In Washington, a top U.S. military commander, General Peter Pace, said in television interviews Republican Guard divisions around Baghdad have been devastated. General Pace also says Iraqi exiles who want to fight against Iraq's government are being airlifted into southern Iraq to help coalition forces.

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