Major developments in Iraq Saturday

Sunday, April 18, 2004

  • Marines fought pitched battles against about 150 gunmen in Qaim, near the Syrian border, the city police chief said. Five Marines and scores of insurgents were killed in the 14-hour battle, an embedded journalist reported. A U.S. military spokesman could not confirm the report.

    Insurgents freed two Japanese hostages unharmed. Their release leaves 15 foreigners missing or confirmed kidnapped.

    Iraqi security forces fighting with Marines in Fallujah said they resent being sent to fight fellow Iraqis and complained about being outgunned by insurgents. The unit is the elite of the U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces.

    The U.S. military closed down two major highways into Baghdad, the latest disruption caused by intensified attacks by anti-U.S. insurgents.

    About 100 men are undergoing training in Jordan for Iraq's air force, the U.S.-led coalition announced. By October, the new force is expected to have a small fleet of light reconnaissance planes, a pair of Boeing C-130 Hercules transport craft and six Bell UH-1H Iroquois helicopters.

    The top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, appeared to briefly lose consciousness during a news conference. He left the room for a period but returned smiling and answered more questions. The military said Kimmitt was worn out from the flu.

    -- AP

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