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Coalition Troops Try to Restore Order, Crush Resistance in Iraq - 2003-04-12


US-led coalition troops are moving to clear out pockets of resistance and to quell disorder in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities following several days of looting and lawlessness.

US Marines exchanged heavy fire in central Baghdad Saturday evening with fighters loyal to Saddam Hussein's regime. The information ministry was on fire after being looted.

The science advisor to Saddam Hussein surrendered to coalition troops in Baghdad Saturday. General Amir al-Saadi often dealt with U-N weapons inspectors and was among the top 55 Iraqi officials wanted by US forces. General al-Saadi told German television what he had said before the war -- that Iraq does not have nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Some Iraqi police officers say they are resuming patrols in Baghdad to restore order following the collapse of Saddam's rule.

A US military spokesman says a force of US Marines is moving from Baghdad north toward the last stronghold of Saddam's supporters -- his hometown of Tikrit. U-S airstrikes continue to pound the city.

US troops have moved into the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, which Iraqi forces largely abandoned this week. Kurdish fighters, along with some U-S Special Forces, had occupied the cities.

US Special Forces also have detained 59 men traveling on a bus toward Iraq's western border. A US military spokesman says the men were carrying cash and letters offering rewards for killing US soldiers. The spokesman did not have any information on the nationalities of the men.

Meanwhile, the coalition is moving reinforcements into Iraq. Senior U-S military officials confirm that lead elements of the 4th Infantry Division, which has a total force of well over 10-thousand troops, began crossing into Iraq on the ground today (Saturday) from Kuwait.

At the same time, the U-S Navy plans to send home, within days, two of the three aircraft carrier battle groups deployed in the Persian Gulf for the Iraqi war. U-S Vice Admiral Timothy Keating says the U-S-S Kitty Hawk may leave the Gulf in a couple of days followed by the U-S-S Constellation because of the progress of the war. The United States also has two carriers in the eastern Mediterranean for the Iraqi conflict.

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