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200 killed in attack on Baath party meet: US
Agence France-Presse, PTI
As-Saliyah (Qatar), March 30, 2003
First Published: 00:21 IST(30/3/2003)
Last Updated: 00:21 IST(30/3/2003)

Some 200 members of Iraq's ruling Baath party were killed in a coalition attack at a gathering in the Basra region, US generals said on Saturday.

"It was an attack against a Baath party assembly northeast of Basra on Friday evening," Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, deputy director of operations at US central command, told a daily briefing.

"It had about 200 members of the Baath party in attendance."

Brooks followed the remarks with footage showing a missile or bomb dropped on the building, which appeared to be blown to smithereens.

Major General Victor Renuart told journalists it was thought that all those in attendance had been killed.

"We believe... about 200 leaders of these - of these irregular squads, and key leaders - we believe were destroyed last night," Major General Victor Renuart said.

"Each time we make one of these attacks, we continue to degrade the regime, we continue to degrade their capability. And in a very systematic approach, we are moving nicely down the road."

British troops besieging Basra said Saturday the Baath party apparatus in Basra was now their chief target.

"The targeting and eradication of the Baath party within Basra province is now our primary focus and military main effort," Colonel Chris Vernon told reporters in Kuwait City.

Vernon said that a senior unnamed Baath party official was now in British custody and was being questioned.

British forces in Basra also destroyed two statues believed to have been of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on Saturday, Vernon added.


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