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Iraq: Heavy Fighting Near Nasiriyah As Bombardment Of Baghdad Continues

Washington, 22 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Allied forces continued their heavy bombardment of Baghdad in the predawn hours today, and U.S. forces were engaged in a fierce fire fight with Iraqi forces near the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.

As the allies have intensified their assault on the regime of Saddam Hussein, many Iraqi forces have been surrendering. The United States says the Iraqi president has begun to lose control of his country.

Throughout last night and into the early-morning hours today, allied missiles and bombers pounded Baghdad, in east-central Iraq, brightening the sky with red and yellow flashes and filling the sky with smoke.

In southern Iraq, meanwhile, RFE/RL correspondent Ron Synovitz, who is with the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, reports heavy fighting near Nasiriyah near where the Euphrates River, not far from its confluence with the Tigris River.

"There has been heavy fighting between U.S. infantry troops and Iraqi soldiers, who have been surrounded in a perimeter area near the Euphrates River. The Iraqi soldiers have been refusing to surrender despite repeated demands from the U.S. soldiers," Synovitz reported.

Synovitz reported that the Americans have been using heavy artillery on Iraqi positions, and that U.S. jet fighters and armored helicopters have been playing a supporting role in the battle.

In the heat of the fire fight, Synovitz says there is no way to determine casualties on either side.