Iraqi authorities are mounting their defence of Baghdad using mosques and hospitals to conduct military operations, US Central Command spokesman Jim Wilkinson said on Sunday.
"Central command now has reliable information that Iraqi military elements in the Baghdad area are using
mosques and hospitals as bases to conduct military operations," he said in a statement issued here at the US military's forward planning base.
"These locations include the mother of all battles mosque in Northwest Baghdad and the Saddam Hospital, which remain on the coalition's no-strike list."
US commanders and spokesmen have repeatedly accused Iraqi forces of fighting behind human shields and using tactics that endanger the lives of civilians.
As coalition troops moved into the central Iraqi city of Najaf on April 2 they were fired on by Iraqi forces positioned in the Ali mosque, a revered site in Shia Islam, according to US military officials.
They said us troops refrained from returning fire.
But Iraqi Information Minister Mohammad said al-Sahaf charged that US-British coalition forces had attacked mosques were trying to destroy sacred in both Najaf and Karbala.
"They are trying to crack the buildings by flying low over them," he said. "This will be scorned by all Shiites all over the world."