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WAR WITH IRAQ / AIR AND GROUND

The week in review

March 30, 2003|Los Angeles Times

Key battlefield developments in Iraq during the last week:

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Sunday March 23

Fight and capture

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North

U.S. and British aircraft bomb Iraqi army units in Tikrit, Kirkuk and north of Mosul.

Central area

U.S. Marines are killed and wounded when some are lured into traps as Iraqis feign surrender. Troops advance to within 100 miles of Baghdad.

South

Allied forces meet stiff resistance in Nasiriyah and in Umm al Qasr. A U.S. soldier is suspected of tossing hand grenades into three tents at the101st Airborne Division's base camp in Kuwait, killing two and wounding 14 others.

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Monday March 24

The Karbala Gap

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North

Coalition troops stream into northern Iraq in small numbers, hoping to establish a base.

Central area

U.S. forces face thousands of Iraqi Republican Guard troops near the Karbala Gap, a strategic point south of Baghdad. A U.S.helicopter is forced down and its two-man crew is captured.

South

U.S. troops attack Iraqi troops in Nasiriyah with bombs, mortars and small-arms fire. U.S.-led forces face stiff opposition in unexpected places such as Umm al Qasr, Iraq's only seaport.

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Tuesday March 25

Sandstorms

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North

Hundreds of thousands of ethnic Kurds remain trapped in and around Mosul and Kirkuk by Iraqi forces.

Central area

The worst sandstorm in recent memory sweeps through the region, stalling the U.S. and British advance toward the Karbala Gap. Between the gap and the capital, Iraqi Republican Guard troops prepare for battle.

South

Coalition forces attempt to gain control of Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, where fresh food and water are nearly impossible to find.

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Wednesday March 26

A northern front

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North

A thousand U.S. paratroopers jump into Harir and secure an airfield. The move signals the first sizable U.S. presence in the region and establishes a northern front.

Central area

Allied bombers batter two divisions defending Baghdad, hoping to weaken Iraq's positions before an expected battle with U.S. troops closing in from the south. Two missiles hit residential neighborhoods, causing civilian casualties.

South

U.S. forces destroy nearly two dozen Iraqi armored vehicles leaving Basra and apparently headed toward British troops. After several days of delay, the first shipments of food and water arrive in Safwan, causing a near-riot in the village.

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Thursday March 27

Moving forward

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North

Allied troops break through Iraq's first line of defense and approach Kirkuk, an oil-rich city that is a key strategic target for U.S. forces.

Central area

After a two-day sandstorm, U.S. warplanes take off in clear skies and shake Baghdad with perhaps the biggest explosions felt in the city since the war started. Military officials later acknowledge that two 4,500-pound "bunker buster" bombs were dropped.

South

Allied troops, told to expect mass surrenders like those during the Persian Gulf War a decade ago, remain surprised at pockets of resistance Iraqi forces put up in Nasiriyah and Najaf.

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Fri. & Sat. March 28 & March 29

Suicide bombers

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North

More than 6,000 Kurdish fighters, aided by U.S. special operations troops, besiege a group of Islamic militants with links to Al Qaeda.

Central area

Heavy bombing continues in the capital. A blast at a market leaves 50 civilians dead. Iraq says it was caused by a U.S. weapon. A suicide bomber in a taxi kills four U.S. soldiers; an Iraqi official warns U.S. to expect more such attacks. Marines fight in the streets of Nasiriyah.

South

After mines are cleared from the northern end of the Persian Gulf, more than 200 tons of humanitarian aid starts moving northward from Umm al Qasr.

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Researched by Times graphics reporter Daryl Strickland

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