PHOTOS & GRAPHICS
Who will step in to fill the void?
Tools of the Hunt
On Assignment: The War
Perry: Street Fighting in Karbala
Robinson: Chaos at a Bridge
Ware: Last Stand for Saddam
When the Cheering Stops
Jubilation and chaos greet the fall of Saddam's regime, leaving Iraqis and Americans puzzling over how to rebuild the nation
The Search for the Smoking Gun
Counting the Casualties
CNN.com: War in Iraq
First problem is the port city of Umm Qasr in the south. This was said by the Pentagon to have been taken last Friday, but as late as today Monday house to house fighting continued there, holding up coalition plans to ship in humanitarian aid by sea.
Also insecure is the town of Safwan. This was the first town taken last week but now armed Baathist party members have regrouped, and last night were about to attack a group of journalists camped out near that town until the British military told the reporters to leave quickly, under the cover of darkness. They spent an uncomfortable night further up the road to Nasiriyah before being evaucated to Kuwait this morning by a military convoy.
Route 8, the main road north from Kuwait to Nasiriyah and ultimately to Baghdad, is seeing deteriorating security. The advance units moved so quickly that they had no time to pacify hostile pockets en route, and now there are armed Iraqis roaming this road, which is still the main logistics route for frontline US troops. That is why the prisoners from the 507 Maintenance unit were taken yesterday; they are rear echelon troops, but were ambushed by Iraqi forces who had not been dispersed by the first advance.
The situation in Basra is also not going that well for the British, whose prime responsibility it is to take that city. British forces claim to have taken the airport and to be positioned 3 miles to the west of Basra, but last night took a lot of shelling and there are some concerns that units of the elite Republican Guard may have been secretly sent to help defend Basra, contrary to coalition expectations. Nor is time on the British forces' side according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Basra is running out of fresh water, and unless the city is quickly taken there will be a huge humanitarian crisis in there, exactly the opposite of what the coalition was hoping to show from a town that some thought would be happy to surrender to the anti-Saddam armies.