Daylight Baghdad: Saddam’s Regime Crumbles

Reporter Greg Kelly speaks with a soldier of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division via video-phone after Saddam’s "New" palace is secured by U.S. troops.

photo by FoxNews

A convoy of U.S. 3rd Infantry Division troops made their first run into Baghdad two days ago, and today in broad daylight they took control of at least two of Saddam Hussein’s ornate palaces. One palace, known as the "new" palace, was shown subdued on live television with U.S. tanks parked in formidable positions in front with U.S. soldiers in control of the palace.

Nearly 100 U.S. tanks and 60 Bradley fighting vehicles had rolled into Baghdad early Monday with A-10 Warthog planes providing close air support cover. U.S. forces on the ground are still battling fierce resistance from what may be the Fedaydeen Saddam irregular fighters inside Baghdad and on the outskirts of the city. However, coalition check points now surround the city of Baghdad.

Embedded reporter with FOX News Greg Kelly and cameraman Malcom James showed live images of U.S. forces in front of the "new" palace, carrying an American flag and displayed a flag from the University of Georgia (The Bulldogs won this year’s SugarBowl). Kelly said he had entered the palace and described a very "ornate" building with marble floors, gold chandeliers, and running water from gold faucets.

A colonel with the 3rd ID outside the palace said that their victory is a testament to the fortitude of the "American soldier". U.S. tanks were also shown on the infamous parade grounds where they destroyed a large statute of Saddam on a horse and cheered victory as the total defeat of the brutal Iraqi dictator’s regime increases with each moment. British troops have also been destroying statutes of Saddam around Iraq.

Thousands of Saddam’s Republican Guard and other fighters have been taken out of play in the past couple of weeks. The Saddam Canal was breeched recently when U.S. Marines built a bridge across it in just about two hours. The Saddam International airport has been renamed by U.S. forces as "Baghdad International Airport."

While liberated Iraqis cheer in the street, it has been reported that soldiers have found some shrines made by die-hard Saddam supporters in various places to their leader. One war correspondent came across what looked like an alter made to Saddam.

At a heavily barricaded site that was filled with supplies and uniforms that had been abandoned, it was found that also left behind was a single picture of Saddam on the wall and several pictures were painted of a skull and crossbones on doors.

Coalition forces throughout Iraq have found stashes of chemical protective suits. Late Monday afternoon in Iraq, a U.S. official announced that they may have found a large weapons of mass destruction facility in central Iraq in the town of Hinbiya.

"Chemical Ali" and Iraqi Intelligence Leader Killed

Major Andrew Jackson with the British forces said the body of "Chemical Ali" is believed to have been found in Basra. Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as ‘Chemical Ali’ is the cousin of Saddam Hussein and was responsible for the poison gas murders of thousands of people including Iraqi Kurds. Officials believe he and his entourage were killed during U.S. bombings on his villa.

A former UN inspector said that Chemical Ali has been greatly feared throughout Iraq and that he played a critical part in oppressing the will of the Iraqi people .

Many have feared retribution from him if they were to attempt to defect or otherwise oppose the regime. The Kurdish people had been especially fearful of him. Also reportedly found with Ali’s body were the head of Iraqi Intelligence Services and Chemical Ali’s body guards. Confirmation of this report was also given to Reuters by British Major General Peter Wall, "We suspect he (Ali Hassan al-Majid) probably was killed in that strike."

The death of an Iraqi Intelligence leader is significant since counter-terror experts have believed that Iraq was at the core of terror support to terror networks and operations around the world. Saddam Hussein had openly praised the 9-11 attacks against the U.S. and pays the families of Palestinian terrorists tens of thousands of dollars to carry out homicide attacks. An Iraqi Intelligence agent was caught by another country’s intelligence agents meeting with and giving intelligence to terrorist Mohammad Atta to assist him in the attack against America on September 11th.

Yemeni, Sudanese, Syrian and Egyptian foreign fighters that reportedly have been trained in terror camps have been fighting along side the Fedaydeen Saddam against the Coalition forces. The Coalition forces have said they continue to face and defeat the unusual resistance and attacks in Iraq that the foreign fighters pose.

"there is still a linkage clearly between this regime and terrorism…"

U.S. Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks was asked about Salman Pak, the terrorist training camp found over the weekend, and said "there are a number of nations that were involved. I don’t know all of them. I know that we had some from Egypt, some from Sudan, in people that we captured." Those captured have made "inferences to the type of training they received — all these things give us the impression that there is terrorist training that was conducted at Salman Pak."

Coalition forces found a burned out passenger bus and the shell of a passenger jet at the terrorist training camp. Brooks said, "We also found some other things there…We destroyed the complex. All of that, when you roll it together, their reports where they’re from, why they might be here, tell us that there is still a linkage clearly between this regime and terrorism, and it’s something we want to make sure we break. "

British Forces Reassure Iraqis in Basra – Coalition Pushes Forward

The British forces were cheered on Monday by Iraqi men, women, and children as they continued their work in Basra–the second largest city in Iraq. British paratroopers landed earlier Monday and British forces pushed to the center of Basra with a force of tanks and armored vehicles and aerial support.

Capt. Al Lockwood, spokesman for British forces told reporters that their efforts are there to "reassure the people of Basra that we’re there and we’re coming to liberate the city."

British reporter David Bowden in Basra toured another one of Saddam’s palaces, this one as ornate and opulent in riches as the others. Marble floors and intricately etched wood was seen throughout the palace, as well as elaborate stained glass, and gold faucets that Bowden says "may very well be the real Mc Coy"–solid gold.

U.S. tanks pass by the banks of the Tigris river as they roll into Baghdad, outside Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace, Monday April 7, 2003. Coalition soldiers took over key bulidings Monday, as gunfire and explosions thundered in many parts of the battered Iraqi capital.

Jerome Delay / AP Photo

Allied Forces Continue to hammer resistance from foreign Fighters
Allied forces continue to fight the so-called suicide bombers who are fighting with the Fedaydeen Saddam and foreign fighters.

"since the coalition’s entry to Iraq, coalition forces have been focused on the objectives of the campaign." said BRIG. GEN. VINCENT BROOKS of CENTCOM on Sunday at a briefing.

"We’re in the 17th day, and the outcome remains beyond doubt. With each day that passes, the coalition force grows stronger and more damages are inflicted upon the regime and its supporting agents, and with each day that passes, more Iraqis are celebrating freedom.

"Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the family members of those of our fallen comrades who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

"The coalition attacked regime leadership targets, military forces, command centers, communications nodes, and all located aircraft to break the military capacity of the regime. At this point, the coalition can operate throughout all of the airspace of Iraq."

Just over two weeks into Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. troops are operating in the heart of the Iraqi capital, Air Force Maj. Gen. Gene Renuart, chief of operations for the command, said during a press conference in Qatar.

"This was an operation conducted by two task forces of the 3rd Infantry Division," Renuart said. "They … had been south of the city and conducted a raid through the city, proceeding north to the Tigris River and then continuing out to the west in the direction of the airport."

"I think that the message … is to put a bit of an exclamation point on the fact that coalition troops are … in the vicinity of Baghdad, do in fact have the ability to come into the city at places of their choosing," Renuart said. He also noted this demonstrates to the Iraqi leadership that the coalition doesn’t have control in the way the enemy leadership continues to say on Iraqi television. "And I think we made that point," he said.

The newly renamed Baghdad International Airport is firmly in American hands. Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry and 101st Airborne divisions have secured the airfield and defeated a number of Iraqi attacks.

"That does not mean that there’s not a threat from artillery from enemy forces, who have continued to attack throughout the course of today to varying degrees and in varying sizes, but with no success," Renuart said. "There are a number of sites on the airfield that we want to make sure we spend extra time to ensure there’s not booby traps and those kinds of things. But we feel like we can operate on the airfield with ease."

The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force continues to hammer resistance from foreign fighters said to be Egyptians, Jordanians and Sudanese may later be determined part of the Al Qaeda terror network influence.

Coalition forces now hold more than 6,500 Iraqi POWs. "We also have reports of a number of units in the country who … have expressed interest in (surrendering)," Renuart said. "But as we move through the country, we haven’t been able to get to some of those yet to determine whether they will choose to fight or not. We will continue to work through step by step, continuing on our plan, and we hope that many of these units will make that decision (to surrender)."