- OUTSIDE MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters)
- Iraqi troops and officials loyal to Saddam Hussein have abandoned the
northern city of Mosul, leaving it open to U.S.-backed Kurdish forces,
a Kurdish commander told Reuters just outside the city on Friday.
- "There are no Saddam regime followers left there,
that's clear," the commander said at a checkpoint near the outskirts
and eight miles from the center of Iraq's third biggest city. He declined
to be named.
- Reuters correspondent Sebastian Alison said an important
bridge at Khazer, on the road to Mosul from Arbil, had been repaired. That
would allow U.S. tanks which have been flying in to Kurdish-controlled
Arbil to reach Mosul easily. Departing Iraqi troops had blown up the bridge
some days ago.
- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, speaking in Washington
early on Friday Iraqi time, said small numbers of U.S. troops and Kurdish
peshmerga guerrillas were entering Mosul. Reuters had seen U.S. tanks headed
there on Thursday.
- On another road near Mosul, at Umr Khan, Reuters Television
producer Soheil Afdjei watched children picking through piles of abandoned
Iraqi army uniforms, helmets, boots and munitions as some 300 Kurdish fighters
waited to move into the city.
- It was not clear how many fighters were already in Mosul,
which lies 240 miles northwest of Baghdad. It is also 50 miles west of
Arbil, the biggest Kurdish town, where the Americans have established a
- On Thursday, Kurds entered the key northern oil city
of Kirkuk, 155 miles north of Baghdad. Reuters correspondents in the city
said large numbers of peshmerga were still in control of Kirkuk on Friday.
They saw no immediate sign of U.S. forces, who Washington says are in charge
of the town.
- Elsewhere in northern Iraq there was further evidence
that the Iraqi frontline against the Kurds was collapsing following the
fall of Saddam's authority in Baghdad on Wednesday.
- CNN filmed hundreds of young men streaming southward
on a road near Kifri, much further to the south, who said they had been
soldiers around Kirkuk. They said their officers had abandoned them and
they had discarded their uniforms and weapons to walk home, saying they
had no wish to serve Saddam. Kifri, 100 miles northeast of Baghdad, lies
close to the southern end of the "green line" that has divided
Saddam's forces from the Kurds, who have ruled themselves in the northern
mountains since the 1991 Gulf War.