Danger Lurks In Baghdad

A U.S. marine shouts orders as they take positions on the east bank of Tigris river during a firefight in Baghdad. AP

Small but determined pockets of resistance and continued civil unrest on Saturday reminded U.S. troops that the war in Baghdad is not over.

A wild firefight outside a Baghdad hotel and the threat of suicide bombings kept American soldiers wrapped in the urgent business of putting down armed resistance in the capital even as looting spread.

Heavy machine gun fire and explosions could be heard along the river from the Palestine Hotel, where many foreign journalists were staying. U.S. military officials say fifteen to twenty Iraqis died in the fighting, but no U.S. troops were hurt.

U.S. troops and Iraqi police are setting up patrols to rein in waves of thievery in the capital city, and American officials were dispatching the first contingent of 1,200 American police and judicial officers to help troops put a lid on the lawlessness.

Meanwhile, Marines rolled north to confront what could be Saddam Hussein's last holdouts.

The U.S.-led coalition is expected to focus next on Saddam's hometown, Tikrit, where some Iraqi forces are believed to be regrouping. A contingent of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, described only as significant in size, headed toward that city to challenge whatever it found.

In other developments:

  • Saddam's "science adviser," Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi, gave himself up to U.S. military authorities, insisting that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, that the U.S.-led invasion was unjustified, and that he had no idea where Saddam is.

  • A Marine was shot and killed at a Baghdad checkpoint by a man carrying a Syrian identification card. Officials say the soldier from the First Marine Expeditionary Force was guarding a checkpoint at a medical facility when two men, posing as landscape workers, approached him. One man opened fire, killing the Marine. Other Marines shot and killed the Syrian man but the second attacker fled.

  • Rescued POW Jessica Lynch arrived back in the United States to continue treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

  • Congress approved an $80 billion war package. The bill passed by voice votes in the House and Senate.

  • In his weekly radio address, the president did not mention the looting in Baghdad and elsewhere. "As people throughout Iraq celebrate the arrival of freedom, America celebrates with them. We know that freedom is the gift of God to all mankind, and we rejoice when others can share it," Mr. Bush said.

  • Hans Blix, who headed the most recent round of weapons inspections in Iraq, lashed out against the U.S.-led war in remarks to a Spanish daily reported in Britain's Guardian newspaper. "There is evidence that this war was planned well in advance. Sometimes this raises doubts about their attitude to the [weapons] inspections," He told El Pais.

  • Finance officials from the seven richest industrial countries agreed to support a new U.N. Security Council resolution as part of a global effort to rebuild Iraq. The deal settles a dispute that had threatened to delay postwar help that the United States had insisted could go ahead without U.N. action.

  • Marines In Baghdad showed reporters a cache of about 300 explosives-laden suicide bomb vests in an elementary school less than 20 feet from the nearest home. CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan reports there is concern over several vests that appeared to be missing.

  • With heavy air strikes subsided, the U.S. Navy said it may soon send two of the three aircraft carrier battle groups in the Persian Gulf back to their home ports. But ground forces are swelling. The 4th Infantry Division has begun moving into Iraq from Kuwait and the 1st Cavalry Division is still preparing to deploy, officials said.

  • The Pentagon's latest American casualty count lists 109 dead, ten missing and seven captured. The British government says 31 British soldiers have died. Neither Iraq nor the coalition has released an estimate of Iraqi military casualties. Iraq says nearly 600 civilians have been killed and more than 4,000 wounded since the war began.

    Iraqis expressed increasing frustration over the lawlessness that has gripped the capital since the arrival of U.S. troops and the fall of Saddam, and many angrily blamed the U.S.

    The looting of the Baghdad bureaucracy raised concerns that any documents tied to Iraqi chemical, biological or nuclear weapons programs might disappear along with all the treasures.

    The looting was also doing damage to history. Iraq's national museum lost some of the nation's most valuable treasures — priceless artifacts dating from the Assyrian, Greek and Roman empires, reports CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

    Some residents were taking matters into their own hands, beating up looters and blockading streets in an attempt to quell the looting.

    Iraqi police, quickly adapting to the new power order, worked with U.S. Marines to set up joint patrols that would start work in a day or two.

    In the southern city of Basra, which has also seen extensive looting, armored British troops were expected to join local, unarmed Iraqi police patrols in the next two days, a British spokesman said at U.S. Central Command.

    In Northern Iraq, the 173rd Airborne set up a checkpoint in Kirkuk to keep weapons out of town, a difficult task since most townspeople are armed.

    Kurds, Arabs and ethnic Turks began working on a cooperative arrangement to govern the city without the ethnic strife threatening to flare in the post-Saddam era. Kurdish fighters who took over the city said they would yield to the Americans once enough of them arrived to secure law and order.

    Looting diminished Saturday in the northern city of Mosul, a day after pro-Saddam defense forces dissolved and U.S. soldiers moved in.

    In Western Iraq, U.S. officials said, coalition forces found a phosphate plant where they discovered two drone aircraft - the type that could be used to spread chemical or biological agents.

    Also in western Iraq, U.S. forces intercepted a busload of 59 men driving toward the Syrian border. CENTCOMM says they had $630,000 in cash and a letter offering rewards for killing American soldiers.
    • Joel Roberts

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