analytical center was created recently by a group of journalists and military
experts from Russia to provide accurate and up-to-date news and analysis
of the war against Iraq. The following is the English translation of the
IRAQWAR.RU report based on the Russian military intelligence reports.
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2003, 1828hrs MSK (GMT +4 DST), Moscow - During the night of March
30-31 the situation on the US-Iraqi front became increasingly more critical.
All indications are that the coalition has launched a new attack.
three-hour-long artillery barrage and several nighttime aviation strikes
the coalition forces came in contact with the Iraqi troops near Karabela
and attempted to move around the Iraqi defenses from the east.
For now the
coalition is limiting its actions to probing the forward layer of the Iraqi
defenses, attempting to assess its density and organization after nearly
five days of artillery and aerial bombardment. There have been no reports
of any coalition breaks through the Iraqi defenses in this area. At the
same time morning radio intercepts uncovered a large US military convoy
moving around the Razzaza Lake. At the moment it is unclear whether the
purpose of this movement is to get to the town of Ar-Ramdia or a wider
maneuver leading to the town of Al-Falludja.
convoy numbering up to 100 combat vehicles was seen near the town of Al-Hillah
moving in the southeaster direction 30 kilometers from the strategic Baghdad-Basra
highway. Given there is no Iraqi resistance this coalition force will be
able to reach the highway by today’s night. So far there were no reports
of any losses in this area.
The US forces
resumed attacking Iraqi defenses near An-Najaf. The US group of force in
this area has been reinforced with at least three reserve Marine battalions
and now Americans are trying once again to capture this key town. According
to the US intelligence Iraqi defenses in this area number up to 3,000 troops
aided by around 1,500 volunteers and [Ba’ath] party activists. The Iraqis
here are armed with around 30 T-55 and T-62 tanks, up to four artillery
batteries and more than 300 various anti-tank weapons. The town is being
stormed by the elements of the 1st Marine Division numbering up to 6,000
troops assisted by 80 tanks and 60 artillery systems. Additionally, aerial
support is provided by up to 40 helicopters. So far the Americans were
unable to push the enemy. Early today morning an American tank was destroyed
near An-Najaf. At least two of its crew were killed.
of fire is continuing in the vicinity of An-Nasiriya. The US Marines have
so far been unable to side nth staging area they captured seven days ago
on the left bank of Euphrates. The bridge connecting this staging area
with the main coalition forces is nearly destroyed and is under constant
fire from the Iraqi defenses located in the riverside city blocks. This
is the reason why the [coalition] troops holding the staging area can only
be reinforced by small and lightly-armed units and only during nighttime.
During the past night alone the Marines holding the staging area sustained
2 killed and 5 wounded.
[for the coalition] is complicated by the fact that the residential blocks
occupied by the defending Iraqis come to the very edge of the river, giving
a significant advantage to the defenders who control the river and all
approaches to the river. Currently the coalition artillery and aviation
is methodically destroying these blocks in an attempt to push the Iraqis
away from the shoreline.
radio communications indicate that the Marines engineering units are ordered
to build a pontoon crossing up the stream from An-Nasiriya and move up
to three battalions of Marines and troops from the 82nd Airborne Division
to the left bank of the Euphrates for a future strike in the rear of the
An-Nasiriya garrison. The coalition command would have been ready to bypass
other defended crossings on the Euphrates if it wasn’t for one problem:
the entire group of forces has only two pontoon units. Any new pontoon
units will arrive not sooner than in mid-April.
A standoff between
the Basra garrison and the British marine infantry is continuing in the
area of Basra. Using localized attacks the British are attempting to “lean”on
Basra as closely as possible and to tighten the blockade, but so far they
were unsuccessful. Thus, during the last night the British attempted to
take the town of Al-Hasib located 7 kilometers southeast of Basra. The
British plan was to reach the Al-Arab River and to slice the local Iraqi
defenses in half, separating Basra from the defending Iraqi forces on the
Fao peninsula. Up to a battalion of the British marine infantry supported
by armored vehicles entered the town of Al-Hasib from south but in less
than an hour they were stopped by Iraqi fire and requested aviation and
the control of the town is continuing. At least two British soldiers were
killed and three were wounded in this battle. One British armored personnel
carrier was destroyed. British commanders are reporting killing 50 Iraqis
and capturing 10. In the area of the As-Zubair River port, which was declared
to be under full coalition control just a week ago, a British patrol boat
was attacked. The boat was carrying its crew and a marine infantry unit.
As the result of the attack at least 4 British soldiers were killed and
9 were wounded.
coalition losses are, to put it mildly, “falling behind”the actual figures.
The 57 dead acknowledged by the coalition command reflect losses as of
the morning of March 26. This information was provided to a BBC correspondent
by one of the top medical officials at a field hospital in Al Kuwait during
a confidential conversation. “We have standing orders to acknowledge only
those fatalities that have been delivered to the hospital, identified and
prepared to be sent back home. The identification process and the required
standard embalming takes some time –occasionally up to several days. But
only the command knows how many casualties we sustained today and you will
learn about it in about three days…”[Reverse-translated from Russian] This
conversation was taped by the journalist and sent to the editor via a cellular
Based on the
radio intercepts and internal information networks of the US field hospitals
as of this morning the coalition losses include no less than 100 killed
US servicemen and at least 35 dead British soldiers. Additionally, some
22 American and 11 British soldiers are officially considered to be missing
in action and the whereabouts of another 400 servicemen are being established.
The number of wounded has exceeded 480 people.
US experts at
the coalition command headquarters studied the cases of destroyed and damaged
M1A2 tanks and various APCs. The conclusion was that without a doubt the
Iraqis do possess modern anti-tank weapons but so far use them on a “very
limited scale.”Only three tanks have been hit by guided weapons which destroyed
these tanks with the first hit. The rest of the tanks were destroyed with
more standard weapons. Some of the most common causes [of destroyed armor]
include: anti-tank guns (about 40% of all hits), man-portable rocket-propelled
grenade launchers (25% of hits), and landmines (25% of hits). Effectiveness
of anti-tank artillery has been particularly high. “Impacts by high-velocity
projectiles do not always destroy the tank and its crew. However, in 90%
of all cases the tank is disabled and the crew is forced to abandon the
tank on the battlefield…”–says the report that was distributed to the commanders
of the forward units for analysis.
analysts are advising the Iraqi military command against excessive optimism.
There is no question that the US “blitzkrieg”failed to take control of
Iraq and to destroy its army. It is clear that the Americans got bogged
down in Iraq and the military campaign hit a snag. However, the Iraqi command
is now in danger of underestimating the enemy. For now there is no reason
to question the resolve of the Americans and their determination to reach
the set goal –complete occupation of Iraq.
despite of some obvious miscalculations and errors of the coalition’s high
command, the [coalition] troops that have entered Iraq maintain high combat
readiness and are willing to fight. The losses sustained during the past
12 days of fighting, although delivering a painful blow to the pride and
striking the public opinion, are entirely insignificant militarily speaking.
The initiative in the war remains firmly in the hands of the coalition.
Under such circumstances Iraqi announcements of a swift victory over the
enemy will only confuse its own troops and the Iraq’s population and, as
the result, may lead to demoralization and a reduced defensive potential…
analysts believe that the critical for the US duration of the war would
be over 90 days provided that during that time the coalition will sustain
over 1,000 killed. Under such circumstances a serious political crisis
in the US and in the world will be unavoidable.
03-31-03, translated by Venik)
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