U.S. launches Nasiriya attack
Blasts rock Baghdad, missile hits Kuwait City
NASIRIYA, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. Marines in the southern city of Nasiriya launched a daybreak attack against the Iraqi resistance, destroying a number of tanks, as fresh explosions rocked Baghdad and a missile hit a Kuwait city shopping mall.
Using helicopter gunships, tanks and heavy artillery, the 2nd Marines, Task Force Tarawa operation on Saturday was the latest attempt to secure Nasiriya, which has seen sporadic fighting during the past two days, and is on the coalition's north-south supply line.
The raid comes one day after military intelligence officials found what they described as a treasure trove of Iraqi military information, including codes and identification, in a Nasiriya field.
Further south Iraqi irregulars have been resisting coalition forces around Basra. U.S. aircraft attacked and destroyed a building in the town where an estimated 200 Iraqi militiamen loyal to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein were meeting, the U.S. Central Command said Saturday. (Basra strikes)
On Friday, some of the Iraqi paramilitaries turned their fire on hundreds of civilians who were trying to flee the city over a bridge toward the British lines, British military officials said.(Civilians fired upon)
In Kuwait, a missile attack jolted a shopping mall in the capital early Saturday, authorities said, in the first blast to rock the city center since the war against Iraq began.
One worker who was inside the mall suffered minor injuries, authorities said. The mall was closed at the time of the explosion, which occurred shortly after 1:30 a.m. (2230 GMT Friday). (Shopping mall hit)
About a dozen missiles have been launched from Iraq towards Kuwait in the last week, but most have been knocked out of the sky by Patriot missiles.
In Iraq, explosions rocked central Baghdad, where it appeared that Iraq's Information Ministry might have been hit, and several large blasts were reported in the northern city of Mosul late Friday.
Heavy airstrikes have been mounted across the country against positions held by the Republican Guard, U.S. military officials told CNN, with Baghdad hit by its biggest explosions yet.
A hospital official said at least 52 people were killed and more than 50 others wounded when a Baghdad neighborhood was struck in what Arab media said was a coalition airstrike. (Baghdad neighborhood struck)
The airstrikes are intended to further reduce Iraq's military capability in advance of a U.S. assault on Baghdad.
U.S. officials said Iraq's Medina division south of Baghdad is now at 65 percent of its original capacity, but officials are concerned an unknown number of special Republican Guard elements may still be in Baghdad.
In response, two other units of Iraq's elite Republican Guard were repositioning as they work to protect Baghdad from a ground invasion.
U.S. officials have said the battles with the Republican Guard will likely be some of the bloodiest of the war.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld issued a stern warning to Syria and Iran, saying their governments would be held responsible for any forces that assist Saddam's regime or any military supplies brought into Iraq. (Rumsfeld warning)
Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, admitted Friday that military officials may have underestimated "the number of execution squads" and the scope of deceptive tactics such as fake surrenders that Iraqi fighters have employed against coalition forces and Iraqi civilians.
As the humanitarian crisis worsens, hopes of supplies reaching Basra increased after a British ship, the Sir Galahad, entered the southern port of Umm Qasr Friday after being held up a day because of fears about hidden underwater mines. (Aid ship docks)
More aid could be on the way after the U.N. Security Council Friday unanimously adopted a resolution to resume Iraq's oil-for-food program. (U.N. vote)
As some of the U.S.-led troops in the south head north towards Baghdad, U.S. military planners warned that Iraq may unleash chemical weapons.
Iraq insists it has no chemical weapons and suggested it would be coalition forces that would use weapons of mass destruction. (Coalition may use WMD)
• An investigation is underway into whether friendly fire was to blame for the death of a British soldier during an incident involving light armored vehicles, the British Ministry of Defense said
• The Iraqi president urged his people to seize coalition vehicles, saying "the government will pay for the prize to the citizen."
• After a long and confusing battle, U.S. Marines made major inroads Friday in the southeastern Iraqi city of Nasiriya, military officials told CNN. (Marines make headway)
• U.S. military command said four Marines with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force are missing after intense combat in the southern city of Nasiriya.
• Chamchamal, now under the control of Iraqi Kurds, came under artillery fire Friday night from Iraqi positions to the east toward Kirkuk, CNN Correspondent Kevin Sites reported.
• Two days after U.S. forces secured Harir airfield in northern Iraq, C-130 and C-17 cargo planes were bringing in tanks, armored personnel carriers, troops and artillery.
CNN Correspondents Christiane Amanpour, Tom Mintier, Steve Nettleton, Thomas Nybo, Nic Robertson, Walter Rodgers, Brent Sadler, Martin Savidge, Barbara Starr and Alessio Vinci contributed to this report.
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