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U.S. Troops Find American POWs Alive Near Tikrit - 2003-04-13


The commander of coalition forces in Iraq says U.S. Marines operating around the town of Tikrit have found alive six or seven Americans missing in the war.

U.S. General Tommy Franks says the Americans appear to be in good condition, but that he is reluctant to release any more information, because it is unclear whether they were from the seven soldiers listed as prisoners of war, or from a group of five others listed as missing in action.

U.S. Marines found the POWs while moving from Baghdad to Tikrit, the hometown of ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

General Franks said U.S. forces in Tikrit have not met any resistance from Iraqi soldiers, but cautioned that it would be "premature" to say the fighting has ended.

The town -- located 175 kilometers north of Baghdad -- was the last major Iraqi urban center still not under control of the U.S.-led coalition. U.S. warplanes pounded Iraqi defenses around the city for several days.

First live images broadcast by CNN television today (Sunday) showed abandoned armored vehicles along a highway leading into Tikrit, along with deserted military bases, and no sign of Iraqi troops.

A CNN news crew heading into Tikrit was stopped by gunmen and ordered to turn around, and later came under machine-gun fire while leaving the city. CNN reporter Brent Sadler and his crew escaped unharmed. Two people in the convoy accompanying them reportedly were injured.

Coalition troops continued to move through Baghdad and other cities Saturday, clearing out pockets of resistance. U.S. Marines exchanged heavy fire in central Baghdad with Iraqi fighters.

In northern Iraq, U.S. troops have moved into Mosul and Kirkuk, which Iraqi forces abandoned last week.

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