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War in the Middle East An independent update on the invasion of Iraq by US-UK troops

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US-UK troops sustain heavy losses
       (Iraqwar.ru) - As of morning (MSK, GMT +3) March 24 the situation in Iraq can be characterized as quiet on all fronts. Attacking coalition forces have settled into positional warfare, they are exhausted, lost the attacking momentum and are in urgent need for fuel, ammunition, repairs and reinforcements. The Iraqis are also busy regrouping their forces, reinforcing the combat units and setting up new defense lines. Exceptionally heavy fighting continued for two days and nights near An-Nasiriya. Both warring sides employed large numbers of tanks and artillery. More than 20,000 troops of the US 3rd Motorized Infantry Division, supported by 200 tanks, 600 other armored vehicles and 150 artillery pieces, were opposed by the Iraqi 3rd Army Corps consisting of up to 40,000 troops, up to 250 tanks, more than 100 artillery, up to 100 mortars and 1000 rocket propelled grenade launchers (RPG) and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). The two-day battle ended chartering a business aircraft without any significant results. The Americans have failed in trying to use their momentum in capturing An-Nasiriya and attempted to encircle the town from the west, where they encountered strong layered Iraqi defenses and forced to withdraw. The Iraqi forces used this opportunity to attack the US flanks with two brigades, breaking the US combat orders and causing panic among the US troops. The US command was forced to halt the advance of its forced toward An Najaf and once charter a jet again redirect several tank battalions to support the attacked units. Nearly 6 hours was needed for the US aviation to stop the Iraqi attack and restore combat order of the US forces. According to the intercepted radio traffic, the US forces have sustained up to 40 killed, up to 10 captured and up to 200 wounded during the fighting near An-Nasiriya. There is confirmed information about one lost attack helicopter and an unconfirmed report about a lost ground attack plane. The US forces have also lost up to 40 armored vehicles, including no less than 10 tanks. Several intercepted reports by the US field commanders stated that their troops are unable to advance due to their soldiers being demoralized by the enemy's fierce resistance and high losses.

"Arab leaders are not doing enough"
       BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Baghdad told Arab leaders on Tuesday they were not doing enough to halt the invasion of Iraq, urging them to stop oil exports and to block the use of their airspace and territorial waters by U.S. and British forces. Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said a condemnation of the U.S.-led war against Iraq by Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo on Monday was "meaningless" and that concrete action was needed from the Arab world to try to halt the war. "Why don't they decide to suspend oil exports to the states who are launching aggression against us?" an angry Ramadan said at a news conference in Baghdad. "Why don't they close the embassies of the states who are committing aggression against Iraq? Why don't they block their waters to American and British vessels and why don't they close their airspace to American and British warplanes and missiles?" Several Gulf Arab countries have allowed the U.S. and Britain to use their territory for the attack on Iraq. The land invasion of Iraq was launched from Kuwait, and Qatar hosts the U.S. Central Command war headquarters. The U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is based in Bahrain. Ramadan also criticized Jordan, saying the country had stopped importing Iraqi oil. "I tell the Jordanian people that the one who suspended Iraqi oil exports to your country is your government," he said.

No banned weapons yet found in Iraq
       AS SAYLIYA CAMP, Qatar - US-led forces have not yet found any evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, but experts are investigating a number of sites that have caused concern, a US general said on Tuesday. Asked at a news conference whether outlawed weapons had been discovered during the on-going invasion of Iraq, Maj. Gen. Victor Renuart said: "I can't give you confirmation of any reports at this point." However, he said that as US and British forces swept deeper into Iraq they were taking over places that have raised suspicions in the past. "I will say that we continue to do site exploitations of a number of sites. As we move forward we uncover a number of sites that we may have been concerned about in the past," he said. "I think as we get closer to Baghdad, we will see more of those sites that we will continue to exploit.
Note: the existence of mass destruction weapons was the main US argument to start the ilegal invasion of Iraq.

Shadows in the night exhaust US soldiers
       NEAR NAJAF, Iraq - US forces are finding it only takes a handful of guerrillas to unnerve a fighting force. Sometimes, just shadows in the night will do. "Up, up, up," sentries screamed as they ran through a dusty engineers' camp at dead of night. "We're on 100 percent security." That meant: everyone to defensive positions at the camp near Najaf in central Iraq - everyone, rather than the one in four already ordered to stay up all night to watch for danger. Soldiers who had been slumped over steering wheels, lying on the ground or on top of vehicles - sleeping, or desperately trying to - raced to man the artificial earth mounds, up to 15 feet high, that ring the desert camp. A score of militants armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades were prowling the area less than half a mile away, scouts had reported. Some of the 200 soldiers here have already seen the hit-and-run raids by small militia groups, some in civilian dress, which have emerged as a key Iraqi tactic in the 6-day-old war. Danger now looms everywhere, not just in obvious armed formations. Troops are on edge and are taking no chances - but that brings its own risk. Fear and nerves might wear them down, depriving them of sleep and dulling their responses. For four hours, from midnight until before dawn, they waited, squinting in the hazy, faint moonlight to detect anything suspicious moving through the sand whipped up by strong winds. In the end, it was a false alarm. Had someone panicked by calling out the whole camp?

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