FOX NEWS Monday, April 07, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.S. troops seized key buildings in the center of the Iraqi capital on Monday, including a major presidential palace and the Information Ministry.
Reporters saw the tanks roll into the heart of Baghdad on the western side of the Tigris River, which divides the city. Also occupied was the Al-Rashid Hotel.
The 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division entered the city at 6 a.m. moving up highway and meeting only moderated resistance mostly from infantry. They took assault fire and rocket propelled grenades.
The U.S. Army columns moved from southeast to northeast to the newest and main presidential palace on the Tigris.
Iraqis fled along the river, some jumping in the water.
Attack Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry entered the compound and began securing the building and searched the grounds.
They drew small arms fire from a clock tower overlooking the compound. Tanks quickly destroyed it.
Most of the compound was severely damaged from prior U.S. raids.
Col. David Perkins told his troops before the operation that the mission was intended to be “a dramatic show of force” to demonstrate that U.S. forces can enter Baghdad at any time, anywhere.
The Bradley fighting vehicles and tanks took up fighting positions around the presidential palace on the way in, up Highway 8.
U.S. troops had to pass through a 400-yard-long minefield to approach the area.
There were 200 anti-tank mines spread on the road and U.S. troops pushed them aside and proceeded down the highway.
Across the river on the southern tip of the old palace presidential compound on the west bank of the Tigris, fire raged in what used to be an army camp.
There was no sign of any Iraqi troops after a group was seen running northward. Two Iraqi tanks sat motionless as heavy machine gun and light arms fire continued.
Groups of U.S. soldiers moved in the direction where the Iraqi soldiers fled. Members of Saddam’s Fedayeen paramilitary fighters prevented journalists from leaving their hotel.
Iraqi troops did not use any mortars or artillery against the American forces.
F-16 fighter jets flew ahead of the U.S. armored column, bombing any tanks or armored personnel carriers along the way.
U.S. troops also fired mortars on key intersections before passing through. Tanks took up positions around key intersections.
Black smoke clogged the air and covered the city.
The stepped-up assault on Baghdad followed a weekend of incursions by U.S. forces in tanks and armored personnel carriers. Troops rolled through streets of the capital “destroying all of the enemy vehicles and personnel with whom they’ve come in contact,” Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Sunday.
“One of the points is to destroy the enemy that we found, and the last two raids have been very, very successful at doing that,” he said.