U.S. military officials quickly denied Iraq's claim that American prisoners of war had been taken and would be shown on television.

U.S. Central Command was checking the report, which could not be independently verified, but officials "categorically" denied that there were coalition prisoners of war and that Iraq had shot down any coalition aircraft. 

Iraq's vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan had made the POW claim during a news conference in Baghdad.

"Within hours you will watch American prisoners on TV screens and you will see films of burnt tanks at Suk al-Shoukh," said Taha Yassin Ramadan, referring to a town about 20 miles southeast of Nasiriyah, which coalition troops said they had captured Saturday.

Separately, an Iraqi defense ministry spokesman claimed seven coalition aircraft had been shot down.

But a U.S. official told Fox News there were "no reports of unaccounted for coalition aircraft or personnel," except for a British aircraft that is believed to have been accidentally hit Sunday by a U.S. missile over Kuwait.

In other remarks, Ramadan denied that U.S. special forces were in Baghdad.

"We have allowed them to cross the desert," he said "I tell you, we wish and beg that they come to Baghdad so that we will teach a lesson to this evil administration and all who cooperate with her."

He also denied speculation that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been injured in the attacks.

"I think for the past four days you have the president on television," he said. "You have seen the president more than once."

There were unconfirmed reports that Ramadan himself may have been wounded in the initial coalition air strike.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.