Iraq War Update
This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS.
American officials on Friday declared the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein "gone." Military officials promised to deal with anarchy in Baghdad and other cities, but war efforts moved north.
Iraqi soldiers in the northern city of Mosul surrendered Friday. Mosul is Iraq's third largest city. United States military officials say a large force of the Iraqi army surrendered to American troops and their Kurdish allies.
People in Mosul celebrated. But there was theft and disorder in the city. Also, tensions have increased between Arabs and Kurds there. Arabs are about sixty-five percent of the population of Mosul.
The capture of Mosul left Tikrit a remaining target for American forces in the north. Tikrit is Saddam Hussein's hometown. Some reports suggested that members of his family might be hiding there.
Also in the north, American forces moved to take control of Kirkuk and the oilfields around it. Allied Kurdish troops captured the city Thursday.
The United States agreed to let Turkey send military observers to join American forces in that city. Turkey threatened to intervene if Kurds were permitted to remain in control. Secretary of State Colin Powell promised that Kurdish fighters would leave Kirkuk.
Turkey fears that Kurds in northern Iraq might try to set up an independent state. The fear is that this would set an example for the large Kurdish population across the border in southern Turkey. Kurdish political leaders say they do not seek independence. They say they want to remain part of a united Iraq.
American forces in Iraq continue to face resistance. Military officials say the end of Saddam Hussein's control does not lessen the dangers faced by coalition troops or Iraqi civilians. Officials say Arabs from other countries have entered Iraq to fight against the Americans.
Iraqis are short of food, medicine and clean water. Even hospitals have been targets of stealing. The International Red Cross urged coalition forces to return order in Baghdad so hospitals can receive medical supplies. There was also lawlessness in the south. Five bank robbers were reported killed Friday in a gunbattle with British troops in Basra. Basra is the second-largest city in Iraq.
An American-led temporary government is expected to begin work in Baghdad within two weeks. Plans call for the team to organize aid programs and work to rebuild the capital and set up a democratic government. The Bush administration has said the United Nations will take part in the efforts to rebuild Iraq, but will not lead them.
As of Friday, after more than three weeks of war, no one could still say for sure what has happened to Saddam Hussein or his two sons.
This VOA Special English program IN THE NEWS was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is Steve Ember.