Coalition forces have surged to within 160 kilometers of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, but are meeting fierce resistance at some locations and guerrilla-style attacks in areas they have already seized.
U-S and British forces advanced across deserts and rivers today (Sunday) --two-thirds of the distance from Kuwait to Baghdad. However, fighting is reported in the Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf, at the Euphrates river town of Nassiriya and at Umm Qasr in southern Iraq.
Coalition forces had taken the port of Umm Qasr two days ago, but are still facing stubborn pockets of resistance and guerrilla-style attacks. Coalition forces hope to use the Persian Gulf port to bring humanitarian supplies to Iraqi civilians.
Meanwhile, Baghdad has been rattled again by explosions in the daylight hours, following a night of air strikes that briefly plunged parts of the city into darkness.
Explosions were also reported today around the northern city of Mosul, and in Tikrit, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's home town.
Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan told reporters that coalition forces are being allowed to move north uncontested, but he said U-S led forces will face certain defeat once they approach Baghdad.
Iraq's information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf said coalition forces killed 77 civilians and wounded 366 others Saturday near the southern city of Basra. He said the dead and wounded were victims of cluster bombs. There has been no confirmation of the allegation or the number of civilian casualties.
U-S General Tommy Franks said Saturday that coalition forces are on the outskirts of Basra but he said they have no plans at present to enter the city.
There are continuing questions about the whereabouts and health of Saddam Hussein. Iraqi television showed pictures of him Saturday meeting with his aides, but there was no clear indication when or where the recording was made.