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US forces may have captured
Baghdad international airport
April 04, 2003 03:11 IST
Hours after Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf's asserted that US forces were nowhere near Baghdad, America's ABC television channel reported that the troops had captured Saddam International Airport on the capital's outskirts.
US authorities are yet to make any comment on the issue.
On Thursday, the capital suffered a blackout for the first time since the US attack began even as aerial bombardment continued.
In Washington, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed that US forces were closing in on Baghdad.
"They are closer to the centre of the Iraqi capital than many American commuters are to their downtown businesses," is how he chose to describe the situation.
Rumsfeld did sound a note of caution warning that 'there will be difficult days ahead'.
Al-Sahhaf, however, had earlier insisted that US forces were being held at bay by Iraqi troops in various parts of the country.
He brushed off queries by journalists about an imminent attack on the capital.
Iraqi officials then took the journalists on a round of the airport where there was no sign of any attack.
Brigadier Gen Vincent Brooks had on Wednesday claimed that at least two Republican Guard units had taken a severe beating.
BBC reporters embedded with US army units, however, could not find any evidence to suggest a destructive battle like the one portrayed by Gen Brooks.
US commanders were not forthcoming with details.