U-S military officials say coalition forces in Iraq will try to clear out resistance from Iraqi militias before starting the land assault on Baghdad.
The militias -- including Saddam Hussein's fiercely loyal Fedayeen -- have been attacking the rear of advancing coalition troops and their supply lines since the U-S-led ground invasion began last Friday.
U-S military officers say coalition troops will now hunt down the militias and hit them first before they can attack.
Meanwhile, a new wave of explosions was heard on the outskirts of Baghdad after nightfall today (Wednesday). Coalition aircraft bombed several targets in Baghdad earlier in the day, including Iraqi satellite-television, which was knocked off the air for a while.
Iraqi officials say two U-S missiles struck a Baghdad residential area, killing at least 14 people. The Central Command spokesman said he could not confirm the report until after an investigation.
Coalition forces remain at Karbala, about 90 kilometers south of the Iraqi capital, while to the southeast, several thousand U-S Marines advanced today (Wednesday) to the town of Shatra, 275 kilometers from Baghdad. There they ran into more Iraqi resistance, and fighting was underway.
U-S Marine intelligence sources say they have spotted a large convoy of Iraqi Republican Guard vehicles heading toward the Marines. However, a spokesman for the U-S Central Command, Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, says there has been no sign of any such large-scale movement.
The Marines just went through several days of heavy fighting to get past the city of Nasiriyah, where Iraqi forces tried to block their passage over the Euphrates River. Iraq's Information Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf says that more than 500 civilians were injured and more than 200 homes were destroyed when the Marines stormed through Nasiriyah on Tuesday.
A U-S military source says there is evidence that the Iraqi government has wired many of the bridges around Baghdad for destruction in case coalition troops enter the city.