Iraqi Defense Minister Says Iraq Strongly Resists Enemy

Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmed said here Friday evening that Iraqi forces are strongly resisting American and British invaders.

At a press conference held in Baghdad, he acknowledged for the first time that US and British troops have crossed the borders into Iraq from Kuwait and attacked Um al-Qasser and headed towardsBasra.

He also said that US and British paratroopers landed in a number of border towns close with Syria and Jordan. Towns they attacked include Rutba, 350 km west to Baghdad, al-Nakhaib near Mosul, besides Al-Walid military base close to the Syrian border.

But the paratroopers met strong resistance from Iraqi troops and tribesmen.

In Rutba area, "two enemy armed vehicles were destroyed by rocket propelled grenades," he said, adding battles in that area still continued.

The press conference was disrupted by loud explosions at around2100 local time when coalition forces launched massive bombardmenton Baghdad.

He also said that British forces landed behind al-Fao peninsulaand bombarded the town of al Fao by artillery. "The enemy forces have advanced further more into the northern Rumeila area, which has rich oil reserve."

Another army force heads the city of Basra 520 km north of Baghdad, but "was stopped because of strong resistance.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the military said Iraqi missile force fired surface-to-surface missiles to coalition forces concentrations in Al-Rouqa, and Ali Salem base in Kuwait onFriday.



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