IN SOUTHERN IRAQ – About 500 Iraqis have been killed in the last two days by 3rd Infantry Division's tanks and mechanized units as they swept through southern Iraq, a top U.S. commander reported Tuesday.
The estimate came from Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Preston of V Corps, who oversees the 3rd Infantry Division.
Preston said U.S. forces ran into "a lot" of Iraqi tanks and anti-aircraft weaponry and "thousands and thousands" of weapons around the city of Najaf.
'This could have been very ugly, but they're not very motivated," Preston said of the regular Iraqi army recruits. "I think a lot of them wanted to go home."
Many of the Iraqis appeared to have very low morale, he reported, adding that family members were seen pick up dead soldiers and taking them home for burial.
U.S. troops were stopping civilian vehicles and interrogating people, he added.
Asked about his division's plans, he replied simply: "Baghdad. That's where we're going, one step at a time."