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Rodgers: U.S. Army says Baghdad is encircled

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CNN's Walter Rodgers

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CNN's Walter Rodgers reports that U.S. Army officials say coalition troops now encircle the Iraqi capital.
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As U.S. forces pushed into Baghdad, the 3-7th Cavalry engaged Iraqi tanks that tried to retake positions near the Iraqi capital. CNN's Walter Rodgers reports.
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(CNN) -- All roads that lead to Baghdad are now controlled by coalition forces, CNN Correspondent Walter Rodgers was told by U.S. Army officials Sunday. He spoke with CNN anchor Bill Hemmer about recent developments.

RODGERS: Bill, good news for the United States and the coalition. Army sources have told CNN that the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, is completely encircled. U.S. forces, the Army and Marines, control all roads into and out of Baghdad. One senior officer told us if you want to stay alive, you better stay inside the city.

Baghdad is now completely encircled.

We do know that there was another army foray into the city throughout the hours a short while ago. Second Brigade, Third Infantry Division did a repeat tour pushing inside the city, flexing the U.S. Army's muscle -- very little action. She went into the city and came out again.

Seventh Cavalry, the unit with which I'm embedded just southwest of the city, has been under considerable fire throughout last evening and today. The Iraqis are firing antitank missiles at the U.S. Army vehicles. There have been no hits, but again, very serious fire against the 7th Cavalry. In point of fact, what we've been hearing is explosions intermittently throughout the day and heavy fighting again last night. Again, no 7th Cavalry casualties in all of this.

But what's been happening, and this is very interesting, is some of the Iraqi civilians are beginning to step forward and collaborate with the U.S. Army -- for example, the army interpreters and intelligence officers are talking with some of the Iraqi civilians in the roads along the way, and they are now telling the army where the Fedayeen -- that is, Saddam Hussein's most fanatic fighters -- are hiding.

What they're saying is the army has been told the Fedayeen hide in schools during the day and then come out and conduct guerrilla attacks, these hit-and-run attacks on the 7th Cavalry at night after dark. But again, the Fedayeen are, according to local Iraqi civilians, taking refuge in schools during the day and then coming out and trying to strike the 7th Cavalry.

HEMMER: Walt, you talk about surrounding and sealing off Baghdad. That has to be a huge task based on the sheer size of that city. Have they talked about how many entrances, how many roads, how many highways might be affected right now?

RODGERS: They have a list of the highways, they rattled off the names and numbers of each highway. But again, according to a high-ranking senior officer with the U.S. Army here, attached in this area, we were told that all roads into and out of Baghdad are now controlled by the U.S. Marines who have moved into positions, as well as the United States Army, of course, being the first here. All those roads in and out have been sealed. And as I say, one officer said if you want to stay alive, stay off those roads now.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This report was written in accordance with Pentagon ground rules allowing so-called embedded reporting, in which journalists join deployed troops. Among the rules accepted by all participating news organizations is an agreement not to disclose sensitive operational details.


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