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Fedayeen fights hard in Hillah

A Baath party militia commander directs others in Hillah after airstrikes last week.
A Baath party militia commander directs others in Hillah after airstrikes last week.

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HILLAH, Iraq (CNN) -- American troops met stiff resistance Tuesday morning from Iraqi paramilitary forces for control of an agricultural complex on the outskirts of the central town of Hillah.

Soldiers from the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division, 3rd Brigade engaged in an hour-long firefight with Iraqi soldiers believed to be members of Saddam Fedayeen 50 miles south of Baghdad, said CNN's Ryan Chilcote, who is travelling with the unit.

Kiowa helicopters fired several rockets into a building, while U.S. soldiers fired grenade launchers to quell the resistance before they were able to enter, Chilcote said.

Parts of the main building of the complex, which contains several warehouses and silos, were on fire and U.S. infantry soldiers went through it room by room to see if there were any survivors, he said.

A soldier in a Humvee vehicle with a large speaker mounted on top was asking the soldiers to stop fighting, Chilcote said.

U.S. soldiers hit the largest silo with anti-tank artillery, engulfing the building in flames, he said, while soldiers used tanks, armored personnel carriers, attack and scout helicopters.

Three U.S. soldiers were wounded, none seriously, Chilcote said. Two Kiowa helicopters were damaged, but the pilots were not injured.

The dead bodies of two Iraqi fighters were lying on the side of the road, minutes after they ambushed the U.S. convoy of Humvees.

Some of the Fedayeen appeared to be surprised by the U.S. attack, Chilcote said. Soldiers found Iraqi soldiers' clothes still hanging from a clothesline, he said.

Hillah is the modern location of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the hanging gardens of Babylon.

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.


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