A US commander in the Gulf said on Wednesday US troops had destroyed the Baghdad division of the Iraqi Republican Guard near the town of Kut, 170 km southeast of the Iraqi capital.
"Our land component initiated a two corps attack to destroy Republican Guard positions defending Baghdad.
First Marine Expeditionary Force attacked the Baghdad division near the town of al Kut. The Baghdad division was destroyed," Brigadier General Vincent Brooks told a news conference.
Brooks said the US forces had also fought two other elite Republican Guard divisions.
"Fifth Corps attacked against a combination of the Medina division and the Nebuchadnezzar division, both of the Republican Guard forces command. The attacks were effective and action continues in this case near Kerbala," he said.
US troops had also seized a dam at Haditha, northwest of Baghdad, which he said could have been used to "flood the Euphrates river leading down toward Baghdad, particularly in the area of Kerbala."