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U.S.: All going to plan

Smoke rises after a blast in Baghdad early Monday.
Smoke rises after a blast in Baghdad early Monday.

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DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- As U.S. military officials insist the invasion of Iraq is proceeding as planned, the round-the-clock bombardment of Iraqi regime targets continued Sunday night into Monday.

Coalition forces have intensified airstrikes and hit Baghdad with a new wave of bombing overnight, with over 1,800 sorties flown on Sunday, said CNN Correspondent Bob Franken, embedded with the U.S. Air Force in southern Iraq.

More than half of those targeted Republican Guard positions, Franken said. The Air Force had been averaging 1,000 sorties a day.

Included in the targets on Monday was the Ministry of Information building in central Baghdad.

U.S. commanders say there will be no pauses or cease-fires in the invasion of Iraq and moved to deny reports the Pentagon underestimated the number of troops needed for conflict.

Among the growing criticism, a veteran war correspondent has said coalition military officials miscalculated the determination of Iraqi forces and are now re-writing their battle plans as a result. (War plan 'failed' | Transcript)

But military officials maintain all is going according to plan.

Coalition troops are within 60 miles (96 kilometers) of Baghdad on several fronts and a "capable ground force" is in place in northern Iraq, Gen. Tommy Franks said at a briefing Sunday at U.S. Central Command headquarters in Qatar. (Operation 'on plan')

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed what he said was "hyperventilating" from critics and called reports he vetoed plans by top officers for a larger invasion force "fiction." (Rumsfeld denial)

In other developments,

An Iraqi general appeared on the Al-Jazeera Arab satellite network to deny reports from the British military he had been captured in a fierce battle near Basra. (Capture confusion)

From Baghdad, Iraqi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Hazem al-Rawi disputed reports of coalition gains and said Iraqi troops have halted coalition forces, killing hundreds, injuring thousands and threatening supplies.

He also said Iraqi forces have destroyed or seized more than 130 tanks, armored personnel carriers and other vehicles. U.S. officials have not commented on these reports.

In addition, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf said Iraqi tribal fighters shot down an Apache helicopter in Basra, killing both pilots.

Four tanks were destroyed, the crews killed or captured, and an unmanned Predator reconnaissance drone was also shot down. Pentagon officials denied the allegations, and Central Command is checking reports of the downed drone.

In western Iraq, U.S. forces captured an Iraqi general, who led them to a cache of weapons that included 26 surface-to-air, anti-aircraft missiles and six anti-aircraft guns, according to Central Command. (Officers seized)

In northern Iraq, allied troops destroyed a massive facility held by the Islamic militia group al-Islam, Franks said. U.S. officials said the group is a link between Iraq and al Qaeda and that it was involved in producing poisons for use in terrorist attacks.

Coalition airstrikes in the north have also been stepped up.

British troops give protection to a column of civilians fleeing Basra.
British troops give protection to a column of civilians fleeing Basra.

Also,

• The Iraqi government has written a complaint to the United Nations denouncing what it says was a missile strike last week at a market place in Baghdad. Iraq says 15 civilians were killed. (Iraqi complaint)

• A Marine UH-1 Huey helicopter crashed in southern Iraq killing three people and injuring a fourth, Central Command officials said.

• Iraq has not let the International Committee of the Red Cross visit U.S. prisoners of war, Gen. Richard Myers, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said. (POW access)

• Iraq's ambassador to the U.N. has said Iraqis would "use any type of weapons to defend ourselves." He ruled out the use of chemical weapons, saying, "We don't have chemical weapons ... Iraq is cleaned of that."

• British Army Maj. Gen. Albert Whitely said Sunday that work would begin Monday on a pipeline that would deliver 600,000 gallons of fresh water a day from Kuwait to the Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr.

• The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing Sunday in the coastal Israeli city of Netanya. ('A gift to Iraq')

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.


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