DEBKAfile - US Marines patrolling Baghdad 24/7


April 12, 2003

US Marines begin round-the-clock patrols of Baghdad's street to tame disorders after two days of looting, fires, revenge killings and vandalism - mainly of government buildings, banks, luxury hotels, shops. Medical services have broken down. Baghdad Archeological Museum badly damaged, priceless artifacts from Babylon, Ur and Nineveh carried off.

US forces beat down resistance from paramilitaries and Arab voluneers in Al-Mansour district of Baghdad.

DEBKAfile reports: Local Iraqi tribal chiefs threaten violence if Kurdish militias do not leave Mosul at once. Arab fighters heading from Syria to Mosul to help expel Kurdish militias who seized oil city Friday after Iraqi 5th Division surrendered.

To stop incoming force, US special forces block highway 11 from Syrian Kamishi to Mosul. Second northern oil city of Kirkuk in chaos. Despite earlier reports, Kurdish fighters are staying put. US forces fully engaged in securing north Iraq’s oil installations, lack manpower to force Kurdish exit.

Heavy coalition bombardment over Tikrit continues Saturday to prepare ground assault in last major city under Iraqi control. US roadblocks stem flow of Saddam loyalist troops towards Tikrit from north and Baghdad.

US troops told to hunt 55 senior Baath, military, regime leaders, a few of whom killed, others trying to escape country.

US Special Forces block last open Iraq-Syrian, Iraq-Jordan highways to stem Iraqi leaders’ flight. Some believed heading for Iran, Turkey and Gulf sea-route.

DEBKAfile exclusive sources: France offers all Iraqi diplomats and Saddam regime VIPs immediate asylum in Paris. French consulates are working around the clock to ease admission for many dozens of Iraqi escapees

Khamenei: US military in place of Saddam is “aggression against Islam”. Iraqi embassy ransacked in Tehran