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Marines take Umm Qasr headquarters of Saddam's party

Weapons, U.S. propaganda seized

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Ba'ath Party headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, is seen in this 4-meter-resolution satellite image.

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UK Pool reporter David Bowden was embedded with U.S. marines as they engaged Iraqi forces at the port at Umm Qasr (March 24)
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UMM QASR, Iraq (CNN) -- A unit of the U.S. Marine Corps took control of the regional headquarters of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party in this port city Sunday night, retrieving weapons, boxes of munitions and stacks of U.S. propaganda leaflets that Iraqi officials might have collected to keep out of the public's hands.

CNN correspondent Jason Bellini, embedded with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, described a late-night attack involving tanks and more than 100 Marines.

The Iraqis were thought to have escaped out the back of the building. No one was captured, but several Iraqi civilians were wounded in the crossfire.

Residents of Umm Qasr, apparently afraid of the party officials, told the Marines about the headquarters and said it gave cover to Iraqi soldiers firing at coalition forces.

Inside, the Marines also found notebooks with printed writing, which translators were analyzing Monday.

Propaganda leaflets like those the Marines found are typically written in Arabic and advise Iraqis to give up support for Saddam Hussein. They often say the coalition troops are there to help the Iraqi people. The leaflets are geared to both members of the Iraqi military and civilians.

One U.S. intelligence officer said he thinks the Ba'ath Party had told townspeople to give up leaflets they had collected or be killed.

"They went around collecting them so the people in the town wouldn't see them, wouldn't have them, wouldn't be able to read them," the officer told CNN.

Although the port city is nearly under coalition control, small bands of Iraqi resistance fighters in civilian dress have integrated themselves into the population.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This report was written in accordance with Pentagon ground rules allowing so-called embedded reporting, in which journalists join deployed troops. Among the rules accepted by all participating news organizations is an agreement not to disclose sensitive operational details.


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