Marine dies in firefight at Baghdad mosque
US marines fought a fierce four-hour battle on Thursday at a Baghdad mosque where senior Iraqi leaders had been thought to be holed up.world Updated: Apr 10, 2003 19:53 IST
US marines fought a fierce four-hour battle on Thursday at a Baghdad mosque where senior Iraqi leaders had been thought to be holed up, as US warplanes attacked areas of the city under the control of Arab fighters.
Fighting was also reported near an oil refinery in southwestern Baghdad. Reuters cameraman Ahmed Bahaddou saw US troops collecting 21 bodies, apparently Iraqi soldiers and civilians, on a road leading towards the international airport. Witnesses said other corpses had already been picked up.
US military officials said one Marine was killed and more than 20 wounded north of the city centre in the battle around the Imam al-Adham Mosque and a nearby presidential palace.
"We had information that a group of regime leadership was attempting to organise...a meeting. The fighting in and around the mosque complex could not be avoided as enemy forces were firing from the area of the mosque," said Captain Frank Thorp, spokesman at US Central Command war headquarters in Qatar.
At Baghdad international airport, Major Rod Legowski of the 1st Marine Division said he could not confirm whether Saddam Hussein had been in the area during the battle but that the Marines were aiming at targets of "significant military value".
"The mission was successful," he said, adding that fighting lasted more than four hours, with Marines coming under fire from rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and AK-47 assault rifles.
Legowski said the fighting was over but that the Marines were "still clearing the mess up".