CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar – U.S. commanders in Baghdad will be able to decide for themselves which parts of the city they want to keep control of and when they want to move, a U.S. general said Monday.
As Americans push into different areas of the Iraqi capital, the local commander will be given freedom to determine his movements, rather than ask the U.S. Central Command, said Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks.
"The commanders on the ground will decide whether there's something new that needs to happen," Brooks said at a briefing.
"So they'll make the decisions on what parts of Baghdad they wish to retain control of, where they want to conduct operations out of, whether they want to move to a different location, exert greater authority in different places, or simply go directly to where they happen to have intelligence on where any regime forces might be located."
Another Central Command spokesman, Navy Lt. Mark Kitchens, said Monday's raid in Baghdad was different than one on Saturday, which he characterized as "in and out activity."
"We proceeded on a slower pace and did a lot more action than we did in our previous entry," he said. Asked whether troops might stay in place, he said, "I think that would be a possibility."
However, there was no evidence of any plans by the troops in place Monday to establish a base inside the city -- at least not at this point.
In other developments from the briefing, Brooks said elements of V Corps operating northwest of Baghdad destroyed an Iraqi unit composed of tanks, APCs, other armored vehicles, artillery systems and infantry overnight.
The U.S. troops had been moving north, to help encircle the northwest corner of the city, when they ran into the significant resistance by the Iraqis. V Corps also moved into the city of Baghdad itself, he said.
The movement of V Corps up to the northwestern area of the city marked the latest link of U.S. forces to encircle the capital. Brooks said the Marines were isolating Baghdad from the east along the Dialah River, which runs north from the city's eastern edge.
Brooks also said an Iraqi colonel was captured inside a tunnel beneath Baghdad's international airport. The colonel had been calling in artillery fire on U.S. forces holding the airport, said Capt. Frank Thorp, Central Command spokesman.
Brooks also said special operations forces raided a commando training camp near Haditha in western Iraq. Kitchens said there was fighting during the raid.