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Battle for Baghdad not yet begun: Pentagon

The battle for Baghdad has not begun, the Pentagon said early on Monday, as fighting raged in the Iraqi capital.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2003 13:29 IST

The battle for Baghdad has not begun, the Pentagon said early on Monday, as fighting raged in the Iraqi capital.

"This does not represent the battle for Baghdad. What this is, is a powerful message that we can go where we want, when we want," Department of Defence spokesman Major Ben Owens said.

"We are not at this point going to say that this is the start of the Battle of Baghdad."

The statement came as US forces reportedly seized three Iraqi presidential palaces, including Saddam Hussein's main facility in the heart of Baghdad.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Bayer, operations officer for the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division, said US troops had "secured the main presidential palace" and another palace in the city centre as well as a third near the airport.

Bayer, speaking at Saddam International Airport outside Baghdad, said a US Army armoured force was attacking central Baghdad. "2nd Brigade is conducting their attack into the heart of the city," he said.

The sound of heavy firing rang out across Baghdad and sustained shooting from small and big guns continued incessantly Monday, AFP correspondents reported.

Heavy explosions had begun booming into the grey skies from around 6:15 am (0215 GMT), apparently from artillery fire to the west of the capital.

First Published: Apr 07, 2003 11:57 IST