|FROM ||Ruben I Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [hangout] Sometimes the good guys win
BAGHDAD, April 9 - Residents swarmed out onto the city streets today,
suddenly sensing that the regime of Saddam Hussein was crumbling, and
they celebrated the arrival of United States forces by tearing down a
huge statue of Mr. Hussein in central Baghdad.
In much of the city throngs of men milled about - some looting, others
blaring car horns or dancing and many tearing up pictures of Mr.
Hussein. Offices of Mr. Hussein's Baath Party were trashed.
Sporadic sniper fire continued, but organized Iraqi resistance largely
faded. The American military hesitated to say that the war was over,
warning instead that more fighting could break out, both inside and
But the streets here were full of activity, after days of fearsome
In Firdos Square in central Baghdad, a group of Iraqi men climbed up the
pedestal of a 20-foot statue of Mr. Hussein and smacked it with a
sledgehammer. Then they put a chain around the neck of the statue and
tied it to an armored American military vehicle.
The crowd then cheered and clapped as the vehicle pulled away, toppling
the statue. Several Iraqis danced and jumped on the fallen statue.
Elsewhere in Baghdad, the American military emptied jails overnight,
releasing their prisoners.
In the neighborhood called Saddam City, a densely populated Shiite area,
crowds of men shouted and waved their arms in jubilation. Some carried
One middle-aged man held up a huge portrait of Mr. Hussein, and in the
middle of the street used his shoe to beat the face of the Iraqi leader,
a particular insult. ``This man has killed two million of us,'' he
yelled as bystanders milled around approvingly.
One American colonel said that there was not a single area of the city
that the Iraqi government still controlled, after another night of heavy
bombing and intense fighting. A few explosions continued during the day
as bombs fell from American war planes.
But military officials said that resistance continued elsewhere in the
country and that Baghdad could not be called secure. At the United
States military's Central Command headquarters in Doha, Qatar, a
spokesman hesitated to say the war was over.
``I think it's premature to talk about the end of this operation,'' Navy
Capt. Frank Thorp said. There could be more fierce fighting ahead, he
said, within Baghdad and other cities.
Bursts of gunfire crackled from time to time today but there was no
visible sign of organized resistance from Iraqi forces. The fighting has
now changed from targeting major military targets to dealing with local
pockets of resistance, another United States military spokesman said.
In the Shiite area of Baghdad, long suppressed by the forces of Mr.
Hussein, there appeared to be a quick breakdown in law and order. Crowds
rushed into a government building, unfettered by police, and emerged
with furniture, china and mattresses. One man carried a huge porcelain
urn. Another shouted ``No Saddam'' at a foreign television camera, as
cars passed in the background honking their horns.
Some of the sporadic gunfire could have been shopkeepers warning looters
to stay away, a sign of growing chaos as the mood spread throughout the
Foreign reporters in Baghdad said that for the first time the government
officials assigned to follow them did not turn up for work. ``The
Information Minister decided to take the day off,'' a British general
Looters took over a United Nations compound in southeast Baghdad, taking
air conditioners, cars and refrigerators.
American marines were moving from that neighborhood westward into the
central city. Army and marine units have already linked up in the
northern part of town.
In the north of Iraq, Kurdish leaders claimed a major gain, capturing a
mountain that had been the last defense for the city of Mosul and its
huge oil reserves.
As the end of the regime seemed clear, international aid organizations
said they were prepared to go into Iraq, but only when conditions became
Basra, the second largest city in Iraq, remained too chaotic today for
aid organizations and it was far from clear when they could begin work
in Baghdad. The International Committee for the Red Cross, the aid group
that has remained working inside Iraq, said the hospitals in the capital
were overwhelmed with civilian casualties.
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