Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the U.S. military is giving Iraqi soldiers a chance to peacefully surrender the key northern city of Mosul --another major prize for the coalition.
Mr. Rumsfeld says U.S. forces are ready to move into the city, along with a large number of Kurdish fighters.
Part of Mosul -- Iraq's third largest city and a major tourist site -- is under Kurdish control. The rest of the city is under Iraqi command.
Also in the north Thursday, Iraqi Kurds backed by U.S. special forces, seized the key Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk.
Jubilant Kurds tore down statues of Saddam Hussein in Kirkuk and murals depicting him were obliterated by machine gun fire, spray paint, and slashes from knives.
The Pentagon says the Iraqi regular army soldiers in the north are the last significant military presence on the ground.
Coalition warplanes are aggressively pounding the Iraqi units and U.S. Major General Stanley McChrystal says their fighting capability has dropped significantly. He also noted that many Iraqi soldiers are simply shedding their uniforms and giving up.
Meanwhile, U.S. Central Command is calling Baghdad an ugly place. At least one U.S. Marine was killed Thursday and 24 others wounded in a gunbattle with Saddam loyalists at a mosque, and in a separate suicide bombing near a hotel housing many journalists.