51st division of the Iraqi army launched the counter-offensive
Iraqi troops that have been defending the city of Basra for six days already. Qatar-based television channel Al-Jazeera reported that Iraqi troops launched the counter-offensive. According to Al-Jazeera’s information, battles started on the outskirts of Basra. Iraqi troops reportedly try to retrieve the control over the city’s airport. Until recently, the coalition command did not think it was necessary to occupy Basra, the blockade of the city was enough. However, it turned out that the 51st division of the Iraqi army did not give up, as it was reported during the very beginning of the conflict. The division entered the city with armored vehicles and artillery, showing a very strong resistance to US forces.
Spokesman for the British command, Colonel Al Lockwood acknowledged that the resistance in Basra was very strong. "We're not going into Basra, it's simply considered a target," said a spokesman at Central Command headquarters in Qatar. "The reason it is a potential target is because it has an enormous political and military importance in the area." Earlier, a different British spokesman told CNN television the British would probably go into Basra.
Reuters reported, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan highlighted humanitarian problems in Basra, calling for urgent action to ensure there was enough water for Iraq's second city.
"A city of that size cannot afford to go without electricity or water for long," Annan said. "Apart from the water aspect, you can imagine what it does for sanitation."
The United States has promised to begin delivering aid within a few days to demonstrate that its fight is with Iraqi leaders, not the Iraqi people.
According to the information that was received from Baghdad, the Iraqi army destroyed over 30 pieces of the American and British defense technology and downed three helicopters. This was said by Iraqi Minister for Information Mohammad Saeed al-Sahaf. Three armored vehicles were put out of action and three American soldiers were killed in the battle for a bridge across the Euphrates river. Three American military men were killed on the outskirts of an-Nasiriya. The minister added that a female member of the Iraqi volunteer corps Meisun Hamid Abdullah destroyed an American armored vehicle together with the crew. The press conference of the minister was broadcast by all Arab television channels.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov