Wednesday, April 9
Tikrit blitzed to forestall last stand
Stuart Millar and Rory McCarthy in Camp as-Sayliya, Qatar, The Guardian, April 10, 2003
US and British jets bombed sites around Tikrit yesterday as coalition commanders stepped up preparations for a final assault on Saddam Hussein's hometown to prevent him using it as the scene for a desperate last stand.
Large numbers of Republican Guard forces dug in around Tikrit were being "actively engaged" by air strikes and special forces, coalition commanders said, amid clear signs that the town was being softened up in advance of a ground offensive, in the same way as the Iraqi capital and towns further south. [...]
The operation to seal off the town took on added urgency yesterday as it became clear that Saddam had probably survived the massive air strike on a restaurant in Baghdad on Monday. Other key leadership figures, such as the information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, have dropped out of sight in the past 48 hours, increasing speculation that they have fled to Tikrit. [...]