Day 4: Iraqis Slow Invasion Forces

"Iraqis Use Guerrilla Tactics to Slow Advance" (Douglas Hamilton for Reuters, 3/23/03):

Washington's hopes that U.S.-led forces would be welcomed into Iraq as liberators bled into the sand on Sunday, the fourth day of war, as Iraqi troops fought back with determination and guerrilla tactics.

There was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction being used by Iraq in battle. Instead, Iraqi troops were fighting with machinegun-mounted Japanese pickup trucks against squadrons of the world's most formidable battle tank, the U.S. Abrams.

There were reports of between 10 and 15 U.S. troops killed in fighting to secure bridgeheads across the River Euphrates at Nassiriyah, with perhaps up to 50 more wounded.

U.S. General John Abizaid acknowledged it was the "toughest day of resistance" so far. He said Iraqi forces near Nassiriya inflicted several casualties in "the sharpest engagement of the war." There were 12 American troops missing, he added.

"Everybody was predicting they'd be welcomed as liberators but it's working out differently," said one senior Arab official in the Gulf. "The Americans had a hard day today" . . . .

In Kuwait, former oil minister Ali al-Baghli said the time taken to capture Umm Qasr might undermine any faith ordinary Iraqis had that the Americans could topple Saddam Hussein.

"We are astonished that there is still resistance in Umm Qasr after all this time. It is a very small place.

"If it takes them this long to capture Umm Qasr, how long will it take to capture Tikrit or Baghdad?"