Operation Iraqi Freedom

Here are the latest developments in Operation Iraqi Freedom
from the Associated Press:

(Baghdad, Iraq-AP) -- Deafening explosions rocked central Baghdad early Sunday. Meanwhile, members of President Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen militia and teenage soldiers are patrolling streets to protect the Iraqi capital from US-led forces. US Central Command officials say American armor penetrated the city early Saturday for the first time, but quickly moved out and headed toward the airport. With the Americans trying to send the message they can strike anywhere, Iraqi leaders are maintaining a bold front. They deny US troops entered the capital and claim Saddam's forces have retaken the airport -- killing hundreds of American "scoundrels." For most of the night, Baghdad was relatively quiet. The drone of aircraft flying overhead was frequently heard, but there was no anti-aircraft fire. At around 6:00 a.m. local time Sunday, there was a series of loud explosions.

(Charleston, West Virginia-AP) -- They're happy because they will soon be reunited with their daughter but Jessica Lynch's family says they're sad, too, for the families of those killed. Gregory and Dee Lynch spoke with reporters before leaving West Virginia for a military hospital in Germany, where their daughter is being treated for a variety of injuries suffered when she was taken prisoner in Iraq. Lynch was rescued in a daring raid by US troops this week. Gregory Lynch says their hearts are "really saddened" for their daughter's other troop members and their families. He was then too choked up to continue speaking to reporters. Eight of Lynch's comrades were killed when their unit was ambushed. US military officials say Lynch was too frightened to speak when she was first found but after an American soldier told her they were there to rescue her, her first words were, "I'm an American soldier too." She also asked not to be left behind.

(El Paso, Texas-AP) -- Nine dead American soldiers whose bodies were found during the special ops rescue of Private Jessica Lynch -- and eight grieving families. The ninth body has yet to be identified. All were found at the hospital where Lynch was held, and all were apparently ambushed by Iraqi forces last month. Now their families are waiting to find out how they died. The cousin of Chief Warrant Officer Johnny Villareal Mata says his family is sharing the pain of the others who have also lost loved ones. He says Mata "will be deeply missed, but never forgotten." In Des Moines, Iowa, the pregnant widow of Specialist James Kiehl is thanking everyone for their support. Jill Kiehl, who's 20, is due to deliver the couple's son in May.

(Clearwater, Florida-AP) -- More than 15-thousand people have packed a park in Florida Saturday to show their support for the troops in Iraq. The Rally for America was the latest in a series of such gatherings across the country. They were suggested by syndicated radio talk show host Glenn Beck, who was looking for a way to counter anti-war rallies. In Oakland, California, demonstrators protested the war and its cost, while a rally was held in Hartford, Connecticut, to show support for the troops. A man there said, "People who are against this war just don't get it." There was a march for the troops in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and an anti-war rally in Detroit. Congressman John Conyers called the attack on Iraq "unconstitutional" and "immoral." One of the largest anti-war marches was in Chicago, where an estimated 15-hundred people demonstrated.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press