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BATTLE FOR BAGHDAD BEGINS

U.S. ground forces have started their push towards the Iraqi capital, entering the so-called "red zone" -- the area within range of Baghdad's artillery, FROG rockets, and al Samoud surface-to-surface missiles."Columns of M1 Abrams tanks and armored vehicles from 1st Marine Division...headed into the outer defenses of the Republican Guard's Baghdad Division around the city of Kut, about 100 miles southeast of the capital," the Washington Post reports. "To the west...units from 7th Cavalry Regiment of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division were engaged in a 'knock-down, drag-out' battle with elements of the Republican Guard's Medina Division."F/A-18 Hornets and other warplanes from the 3rd Marine Air Wing also struck Iraqi T-72 tanks in reinforced shelters as part of the effort, the paper noted.American troops are gaining a crucial advantage, the New York Times says, because the push is coming during the darkest period of the month, allowing American troops to use their night-vision goggles.To help mount the attack, airstrips have been built in the desert for C-130 supply planes. And the Iraqi air base at Tallil has been taken over. The base is being used to refuel the Air Force's A-10 attack planes.THERE'S MORE: The U.S. military says that Iraq's Baghdad Division has been "destroyed."

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