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U.S. Seize Key Buildings in Baghdad

April 7, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ U.S. troops seized key buildings in the center of the Iraqi capital on Monday, including a major presidential palace and the Information Ministry.

Reporters saw the tanks roll into the heart of Baghdad on the western side of the Tigris River, which divides the city. Also occupied was the Al-Rashid Hotel.

The 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division entered the city at 6 a.m. moving up highway and meeting only moderated resistance mostly from infantry. They took assault fire and rocket propelled grenades.

The U.S. Army columns moved from southeast to northeast to the newest and main presidential palace on the Tigris.

Iraqis fled along the river, some jumping in the water.

Attack Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry entered the compound and began securing the building and searched the grounds.

They drew small arms fire from a clock tower overlooking the compound. Tanks quickly destroyed it.

Most of the compound was severely damaged from prior U.S. raids.

Col. David Perkins told his troops before the operation that the mission was intended to be ``a dramatic show of force″ to demonstrate that U.S. forces can enter Baghdad at any time, anywhere.

The Bradley fighting vehicles and tanks took up fighting positions around the presidential palace on the way in, up Highway 8.

U.S. troops had to pass through a 400-yard-long minefield to approach the area.

There were 200 anti-tank mines spread on the road and U.S. troops pushed them aside and proceeded down the highway.

Update hourly