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British tanks enter Basra

PUBLISHED: 11:51 06 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:42 03 March 2010

BRITISH tanks have entered the centre of Basra, Iraq's second city, today a military source said.

The Desert Rats' armour met "patchy" resistance as the troops moved in from the south west.

BRITISH tanks have entered the centre of Basra, Iraq's second city, today a military source said.

The Desert Rats' armour met "patchy" resistance as the troops moved in from the south west.

The source, at Central Command in Qatar, said there was some "stiff fighting' early this morning.

The tanks, which have been waiting outside Basra for nearly a fortnight, pushed their way through an industrial area in the outskirts and moved towards the heart of the city.

The breakthrough came after troops encircling the city pushed forward early today between two and three miles from just north of a bridge marking the southern boundary.

Earlier British tanks and American Cobra helicopter gunships repeatedly pounded a factory complex as Iraqi militiamen responded with machine-gun and sniper fire.

British military spokesman Chris Vernon said: "Constantly we've been eroding on the outskirts.

"We've been targeting the Baath party officials and the irregulars very, very successfully and we had a very big hit the other day on some very senior officials.

"The defences have been weakening so the forward battlegroup commander and the brigade commander, as entirely in line with the way we operate, made the decision this morning, here's the opportunity, the conditions are right, let's go for it.'

ITV News reporter Juliet Bremner, who was with the rolling convoy heading into the centre of Iraq's second city, said: "Hundreds of tanks are travelling down one of the main highways which leads directly into the north of the city.

"As far as we know there shouldn't be too much of a problem getting into Basra itself. There seems to be nothing to stop them.

"No rocket propelled grenades have been fired at the convoy so it should be a pretty straight-forward route into the city. There are no signs of firing or any signs of resistance.'

She said Iraqi forces had effectively been taken by "surprise' by the Coalition push into the city.


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