On Tuesday, U.S. B-1, B-2, and B-52 heavy bombers continued
attacks on targets connected to the regime of Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein as U.S. officials said Saddam and his family may already have fled the country.
The attacks appeared to focus on three Republican Guard
stationed mostly to the south of Baghdad which are known as the Medina,
and Al Nida divisions, Middle East Newsline reported. The guard has six divisions.
Officials said the Iraqi divisions have not been in radio
with military commanders in Baghdad. "There's no evidence of coordinated
actions on the battlefield by these units," Gen. Peter Pace, vice
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. "They're being destroyed in place
without much leadership from above."
Assistant Defense Secretary Victoria Clarke said the intense attacks
the palaces of Saddam and his sons have prompted attempts by their
to flee Iraq. She did not identify those who have already left Iraq, but
officials said the United States suspects that Saddam and his family
have already fled the country.
"Some family members, including family members of very senior
are trying to get out of the country," Ms. Clarke said. "We've not seen
sons. We've seen evidence that family members are fleeing the country or
trying to flee the country."
Late Sunday evening, U.S. military units reached the outskirts of
Officials said U.S. Army and Marine Corps units reached the southern
edge of the Iraqi capital. They said the units were
conducting what they termed probing missions to determine the extent of
Iraqi defenses around the city.
The U.S. forces are also meant to ambush Republican Guard divisions
that are withdrawing from their current positions toward Baghdad, officials
Five Republican Guard divisions are in or around Baghdad and at least
brigade of an unspecified division was said to have been destroyed in
fighting overnight Tuesday.
"There are maneuvers going to try to destroy those divisions that
in our way," Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, director for operations at
Joint Chiefs of Staff, said.
The U.S. forces are expected to be reinforced over the next few days
the U.S. Air Force reduces the strength of the Iraqi Republican Guard.
Officials said the United States is deploying fresh troops in Iraq at a
of 2,000 soldiers per day, with forces approaching Baghdad from the
south and west. So far, the United States and its allies have deployed
than 300,000 soldiers in the Persian Gulf.
U.S. officials said coalition forces have also eroded Iraqi air
and communications systems around Baghdad. They said Iraq is still
to have some anti-aircraft assets in Baghdad that have not been employed
avoid U.S. bombing.
"We fly effectively in Baghdad every day and night," McChrystal
"The reason we don't claim air supremacy there is because they haven't
using all their early warning and fire control radars. They've been
off to avoid them getting destroyed."
McChrystal told a Defense Department briefing on Monday that the
Air Force dropped 3,000 precision-guided bombs on Iraqi forces over the
weekend. In all, more than 8,000 such weapons have been employed in
on regime targets.
"We are seeing some movement of Republican Guard formations as
the general said. "What we think we're seeing them do is moving to
other [units] that have [been] severely degraded."