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Iraq: Latest news at deadline

Monday, March 24, 2003

-- President Saddam Hussein addressed his nation and vowed that "victory will be ours soon." He appeared on television in full military uniform to rally his troops, and said that these were decisive days and that Iraqi fighters were "causing the enemy to suffer and to lose every day."

-- Iraqi television aired video tape of what it said were dead Americans and interviews with five U.S. prisoners answering questions. U.S. officials confirmed that 12 soldiers were missing after an ambush near the southern city of An Nasiriyah. Relatives in Kansas and New Mexico identified two of the soldiers.

-- The U.S. Central Command said Marines defeated Iraqi forces near An Nasiriyah in the sharpest engagement of the war so far. It said up to nine Marines were killed in the battle.

-- U.S. troops found a suspected chemical factory near the city of Najaf, about 85 miles south of Baghdad, and were trying to determine whether it was involved in making chemical weapons, U.S. officials said.

-- The Syrian news agency reported that a U.S. missile hit a Syrian passenger bus near the Iraqi border, killing five and injuring 10. the agency said the bus was on the Iraqi side of the border and was carrying Syrians fleeing the war in Iraq. The U.S. Central Command said U.S. forces don't target civilians.

-- In an apparent indication of renewed Iraqi resistance in the south, the U.S. military canceled a news media trip to Iraq's most productive oil field, which allied forces previously claimed to have secured. Marine Capt. Danny Chung said the Rumeila oil field was "unsafe."

-- In Washington, President Bush demanded that American troops held captive in Iraq be treated humanely and said he was pleased with the progress of the war. "Saddam Hussein is losing control of his country," Bush said.

-- At a subdued Academy Awards show in Los Angeles, filmmaker Michael Moore used his Oscar acceptance speech to protest the war and declare, "Shame on you, Mr. Bush." He drew a mix of boos and applause from the crowd.

-- Explosions shook Baghdad early Monday as the Iraqi capital came under another heavy air attack.

-- A U.S. Patriot missile battery mistakenly shot down a British Royal Air Force fighter aircraft near the Iraqi border with Kuwait, killing both fliers on board.

-- A U.S. soldier was detained on suspicion of throwing grenades into three tents at a 101st Airborne command center in Kuwait, killing one fellow serviceman and wounding 15. The motive in the attack "most likely was resentment," a U.S. Army spokesman said.

-- A British television news reporter who disappeared in southern Iraq was believed dead. ITN television news said its reporter Terry Lloyd and two colleagues apparently were caught in a barrage of "friendly fire" on Saturday.

-- The U.S. military's northern front against Iraq appears to be building, with American planes landing in the Kurdish north and more airstrikes pounding positions of a militant Islamic group with alleged al-Qaida and Baghdad ties.

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