Iraqi television reported that the Apache chopper was brought down near the city of Karbala
New air raids as Iraq downs two US Apache helicopters. Iraqi television today showed pictures of an American Apache military helicopter shot down south of the capital, Baghdad. The black aircraft could be seen still loaded with guided missiles bearing American markings. Iraqi television reported that the chopper was brought down near the city of Karbala, 110km south west of the capital, Baghdad. Two helmets could be seen in the television pictures but there were no other indications of the fate of the two pilots of the craft. Typically the crew of an Apache helicopter consists of two pilots. Iraqi TV said that an elderly peasant named Ali Ubayd Minkash shot down the helicopter with an old Czech made Brno bolt-action rifle. Pictures showed the peasant standing next to the helicopter with the old weapon.
Minkash told the television reporter that he and his brothers had been expecting an attack when the helicopter circled over their heads, so he fired at it and brought it down. Meanwhile in Baghdad, Iraqi Minister of Information Muhammad Sa`id as-Sahhaf announced that Iraqi forces had downed two American Apaches. As-Sahhaf told a press conference in the Iraqi capital that one of the two aircraft had indeed been shown on Iraqi television. In Washington, an American military official today acknowledged the downing of an Apache in Iraq, but made no comment on Baghdad’s claim to have shot down a second craft as well. The American official had no information as to the fate of the two helicopter pilots who would have been aboard the Apache shown on Iraqi TV.
Promise of Victory Iraqi President Saddam Hussein promised victory to the Iraqi people over the aggressor forces. In a speech to the people of Iraq broadcast on Iraqi television, he commended the performance of the Iraqi forces, and their resistance to the American and British armies. Saddam Hussein called on his forces to make use of the opportunity afforded by this first-time entry of these forces into Iraq to inflict the greatest losses upon them. They had avoided clashes previously, relying instead on their planes and missiles. The Iraqi president praised the heroic resistance being put up by the Iraqi military and the people in Umm Qasr, al-Faw, and an-Nasiriyya in southern Iraq, and he called on Iraqis to have patient perseverance and endurance.
Saddam Hussein said in this, his second address since the beginning of the American invasion of Iraq, we have done all we can to end the crisis. We answered their illegal demands because it is Iraqi policy to avoid evil. But we have no alternative but to put an end to it if it comes to our land. Air raids continue Meanwhile, air raids on Iraqi cities continue. Massive explosions shook the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the city of al-Mawsil in the north, and a number of other urban centres. Baghdad was subjected to the most violent bombing in two days. Fires burned in various districts of the city. At least six violent explosions shook the center of Baghdad. Neither air raid sirens nor anti- aircraft fire could be heard. Ambulances could be heard racing through the streets. The blasts came shortly after the Iraqi President gave his speech in which he called for resistance, promising his people that victory was near.
This morning air raid sirens sounded twice in Baghdad where columns of smoke still rise from the places struck last night. The attacks once again hit one of the presidential palaces that had been struck in the previous bombing. In al-Basra, the second major Iraqi city, al-Jazeera’s correspondent has reported that the southern city is now under bombardment. The bombing is focused on the western part of the city, in particular near the bridge that yesterday saw violent battles between Iraqi and Anglo-American invader forces. The city of al-Mawsil in northern Iraq has once again come under bombardment this morning. The thunder of explosions could be heard in a number of areas of the city.
Al-Jazeera’s correspondent said that missiles seemed to be striking west of the city of al-Mawsil, and it could not be ascertained whether the targets being hit were civilian or military. Three air raids targeted the city in the first hours of the morning. Two of the raids were met with Iraqi anti-aircraft fire. Information Minister Muhammad Sa`id as-Sahhaf said that in the northern city of Kirkuk, Iraqi forces had routed American forces that had landed near the city, compelling them to retreat. American and British fighter aircraft today bombed Iraqi forward positions near the city of Tshamtshamal in the area controlled by the Kurds in the north of Iraq. This was the first attack in this area since the start of the American invasion of Iraq last Thursday. The thunder of powerful explosions could be heard along a mountain range controlled by the Iraqi army, located 1,500 meters from Tshamtshamal, a city under the control of the Patriotic Union of Kurdisan (PUK) an ally of Washington. This is the first time that bombing has targeted this region since the start of the war.
Tshamtshamal is located 40km east of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Iraqi forces also foiled similar attempted landings in the cities of an-Najaf and Karbala in the south of Iraq. Iraqi anti-aircraft in the city of Kirkuk opened fire on planes of the coalition near the area controlled by the Kurds in the north of the country. The anti-aircraft barrage continued for ten minutes, stopped, and then resumed again for 15 minutes. Meanwhile the city of Karbala witnessed battles between American military helicopters and units of the Iraqi Republican Guard at the city.
Based on Al-Jazeera materials
Eric Mueller Plano, Texas, USA