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War Tracker: April 3, 2003

Baghdad airport fight: U.S.-led coalition forces launched an assault on Saddam International Airport southwest of Baghdad Thursday. U.S. officials and embedded reporters said coalition troops heading from the southeast had drawn within 10 miles of the Iraqi capital. Full Story
Lights out: Shortly before the airport assault, Iraqi authorities began turning out the lights in Baghdad and closing all checkpoints, CNN's Nic Robertson reported. A source in Baghdad told CNN the blackout did not appear to be the result of bombings. A series of explosions followed the outage, the source said.
Pushing forward: The 3rd Infantry Division pushed through the Karbala Gap on Thursday as soldiers with the division's 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment and the 3rd Brigade Combat Team continued a relentless assault. CNN Correspondent Walter Rodgers, embedded with the 7th Cavalry Regiment, said the soldiers were under constant fire. Full Story
Baghdad residents: In neighborhoods near Baghdad's airport, Iraqi officials driving vehicles equipped with public address systems ordered residents to leave their houses and walk toward the airport, a source told CNN. Full Story
Marines near Kut: The 1st Battalion of the 7th Marines secured two sites Thursday on the outskirts of Kut, an ancient city whose location on the Tigris River about 40 miles south of Baghdad makes it strategically important. The two locations were a suspected Republican Guard post and an Iraqi air base. Full Story
Palace raid: Coalition special operations forces raided the Thar Thar presidential palace 56 miles north of Baghdad, a U.S. official said Thursday. Once inside the palace, the troops retrieved some documents and then left, the official said. AC-130 | 3D model
Airborne divisions: The 101st Airborne Division took control of Najaf and isolated Iraqi forces in that area, the Army said. Near the southern city of Samawa, the 82nd Airborne Division launched "surprise attack" on paramilitary forces attempting to organize north of the city, the Army said. 101st Airborne | 82nd Airborne
Basra bombarded: British forces late Wednesday and early Thursday bombarded Iraqi forces around Basra and Zubayr with long-range artillery and rockets. Full Story | Braveheart howitzer
Gallery: War photos | Map: Troop movements
Baghdad bombed: Coalition forces unleashed a barrage of air attacks on Baghdad around 5 p.m. EST Thursday (2 a.m. Friday Baghdad time), pounding the city center and its outskirts as ground forces closed in on the Iraqi capital. The bombardments came in waves, sometimes with explosions rocking the capital one after another for minutes on end.
Iraqi Air Force bombed: Coalition airstrikes bombed the Iraqi Air Force headquarters in central Baghdad at approximately 12:45 p.m. EST on Thursday. The airstrike used laser-guided JDAM bombs to hit the buildings, located of the Tigris River, near the Baghdad/Muthanna airfield.
Flight totals: More than 23,000 coalition sorties have been flown since the war began two weeks ago, according to a U.S. Department of Defense official.
Northern strikes: U.S. Air Force B-52s bombed Iraqi forces Thursday on the edge of Kalak in northern Iraq after artillery and mortars were fired on advancing Kurdish fighters. B-52 | 3D Model
Coalition: 81 coalition deaths reported.
List of coalition fatalities
Iraq: The Iraqi government has not released information on military casualties but has said that 420 civilians have been killed. CNN cannot independently verify Iraq's numbers.
Rescued POW: Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who was rescued after being held prisoner, underwent a successful surgery on a fractured disc in her back Thursday, her parents said. Full story
Missing or captured: Seven U.S. troops are being held as POWs, and 15 are listed as missing in action.
Coalition POWs/MIAs
Rodgers: Edging closer to Baghdad
Chilcote: Cooler heads prevail
Savidge: Marines move with ease
Sadler: Kurds say time is ripe
More On the Scene reports


Sources: U.S. Defense Department
Food found: A food distribution complex seized Wednesday by coalition forces in Basra contained massive amounts of food. Also found were large quantities of cash and documents. Coalition officials said they hope the documents will help smooth out the food distribution process in this food-deprived city. Full Story
Money pledged: The U.S. pledged $530 million in humanitarian relief for Iraq and said the U.N. would have a major role in delivering help to the country. The U.S. also allocated $1.7 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq after the war. Full Story
Audio Slide Shows: Aid for Iraq | Devil Docs
Explore U.S. war plans and tactics
with CNN's military analysts

Shepperd: Iraqi resistance faltering
Shepperd: Heat can make gear 'miserable'
Grange: POW recoveries 'high priority'
Shepperd: 'Terrible' situations at checkpoints
Grange: Too early to judge the battlefield
Shepperd: War plan 'audacious, prudent'
Shepperd: 'Not a small missile' in Kuwait
Shepperd: Planners must ask 'What if?'
Clark: Northern front 'desperately needed'
Clark: Quick victory 'not going to happen'
Grange: Iraqis fight with 'economy of force'
Animation: Battle scenarios | More battle scenarios
April 2: Helicopter down in Iraq
April 1: Coalition takes on Republican Guard
March 31: Pentagon: Some Iraqi elite forces cut in half
March 30: Bombed night and day
March 29: Explosions rock Baghdad
March 28: Missile hits Kuwait City
March 27: More U.S. troops headed for Iraq
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