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Iraq: U.S. Forces Continue Advance Towards Baghdad

Al-Hindya, Iraq; 31 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. troops have today been battling Iraqi soldiers in the town of Al-Hindya, the closest point yet in the U.S.-led advance on Baghdad. Our correspondent reports that U.S. troops fought there for control of a bridge across the Euphrates River, but were blocked from crossing when Iraqi forces brought in reinforcements and put civilian cars in their way.

There are no reports of casualties yet. Sky News reports that several dozen Republican Guard forces were taken prisoner by coalition forces.

Reuters reports that at least one U.S. soldier was killed today in fighting slightly further south, near the city of Al-Hillah.

There have been other clashes in Shatrah and Al-Najaf, which the U.S. army says is now surrounded.

In Baghdad, coalition raids have continued with the presidential palace reportedly targeted along with the Information Ministry. More blasts were heard in the southern outskirts, where elite Republican Guards are believed to be positioned.