Allied push on Baghdad 'on hold'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Allied push on Baghdad has been put on hold while efforts are made to resupply forces closest to the Iraqi capital, it emerged today.

The Allied push on Baghdad has been put on hold while efforts are made to resupply forces closest to the Iraqi capital, it emerged today.

Officers in the field described the move as an "operational pause" only involving units at the front end of the advance waiting for badly needed supplies.

The speed of the initial dash for Baghdad last week left supply and communication lines stretched. "We're trying not to screw ourselves up and to watch our rear by establishing these lines of communication," one US marine lieutenant told the Associated Press.

Reports from journalists 'embedded' with the marines said that the marines' advance had ground to a halt because of harrying by Iraqi troops, stretched supply lines and the recent bad weather in the desert.

The pause - reportedly set to last four to six days - came as the Iraqis accused the Allies of another attack on civilians in Baghdad.

The "operation pause" south of Baghdad is likely to be seized upon by critics of the Allied military plan, who claim that the need for troops and the strength of resistance they would face had both been seriously underestimated.

But Group Captain Al Lockwood, a British spokesman at the Allied Command Centre in Qatarm, today insisted military plans were "on track and on time".

He told Sky News what was happening was "not necessarily a pause just a reshaping of the battle space ... getting our troops equipped and in the right place for the next part of the campaign".

Yesterday, General Sir Michael Jackson, chief of the UK general staff, rejected reports that coalition forces had become "bogged down".

"Armies cannot move forever without stopping from time to time, to regroup, to ensure that their supplies are up and even, believe it or not, soldiers need a bit of sleep from time to time.

"So this 'bogged down' is a tendentious phrase. It's a pause whilst people get themselves sorted out for what comes next."

Comments