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Congress, poll numbers show support for war; coalition forces make advances

WASHINGTON (BP)–The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution supporting President Bush and U.S. troops in the Middle East March 21, joining the Senate which had unanimously passed a similar resolution one day earlier.

Congress’ actions came as a new ABC News-Washington Post showed 72 percent of the Americans supporting the war with Iraq. The poll, which also put President Bush’s job approval rating at 67 percent, was conducted March 20 with a sample of 506 adults.

The Senate passed the resolution March 20 by a 99-0 vote, saying that the war is “lawful and fully authored by the Congress.” It also “commends and supports the efforts and leadership of the president, as commander in chief, in the conflict against Iraq.”

Some Democratic Senators, including West Virginia’s Robert Byrd, voted for the resolution while expressing reservations, The Washington Times reported.

The House passed its version 392-11 early in the morning of March 21, with 21 members voting present. It notes that President Bush last year signed into law a resolution providing “congressional authorization for the use of military force against Iraq” and notes that Iraq “remains in material breach of the relevant United Nations resolutions.”

The House version “expresses the unequivocal support and appreciation of the Nation” to Bush, Armed Forces personnel and their families. It praises Bush “for his firm leadership and decisive action” in the war with Iraq and on terrorism.

While a few House members voted against the resolution, some who are opposed to war voted for it, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D.-Calif.

“When we go into battle — despite our differences on policy — when we go into battle, it will be one team, one fight,” she said before the vote, The Times reported.

In other war news:

— Five Americans have been killed — four in a helicopter crash and one in combat. All five were members of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

The four Americans and eight British soldiers were killed when a Marine CH-46E helicopter crashed in the Kuwaiti desert south of the Iraqi border at about 3 a.m. local time. The number killed, 12, is less than initial media reports of 16.

The pilot was identified as Ryan Beaupre, 30, of St. Anne, Ill., according to the Associated Press. Beaupre was a member of a Catholic church in St. Anne, AP said.

“We’re a small community of 1,300,” a family friend, Ron Murphy of the First Baptist Church of St. Anne, told the Associated Press. “What happens to one family happens to all of us. The whole community knew Ryan, one of our finest.”

Also, a U.S. Marine became the first coalition casualty during an operation attempting to secure an oilfield in southern Iraq.

Names of the others killed had not been released, pending notification of family members.

— Coalition forces began their “shock and awe” campaign by bombing Baghdad and other cities. Explosions and anti-aircraft fire could be seen across Baghdad early in the night.

MSNBC correspondent Peter Arnett said the strikes were much larger than what he saw during the 1991 Gulf War. Hundreds of sorties were planned for the day, according to the Associated Press.

— U.S. intelligence is still trying to determine the whereabouts of Iraq leader Sadaam Hussein — if, in fact, he survived the opening-night strike.

American intelligence officials believe that Hussein and perhaps one or both of his sons were in the bunker that was bombed, The Washington Post reported March 21.

“He didn’t get out” beforehand, an unnamed official told the newspaper.

ABC News.com reported that eyewitnesses in Iraq saw Hussein being wheeled out on a stretcher “with an oxygen mask over his face.” ABC reported that there is optimism that Hussein was at least injured. Iraqi officials say Hussein is fine.

The White House said March 21 that a videotape of Hussein addressing his countrymen was likely the Iraqi leader, although it could have been taped days before. Meanwhile, CBS News says that CIA voice analysis confirms that it is Hussein’s voice. However, ABC News quoted one of Hussein’s former mistresses as saying the person on the videotape was a body double.

— Coalition forces have taken two airfields identified as H-2 and H-3 in western Iraq. “Hundreds” of Iraqis have surrendered as the forces have advanced toward Iraq’s second-largest city, Basra, CNN.com reported. The website also reported that coalition forces have taken the Al Faw Peninsula, as well as the port town of Umm Qasr, an important capture that provides the lone access to the Persian Gulf.

— A large number of Canadians booed during the playing of the U.S. national anthem at the Montreal-New York Islanders hockey game March 20. The game was played before some 21,000 fans in Montreal.

“I came to the game pretty pumped up, but once I heard that it really got me going,” New York player Mark Parrish said, according to the Associated Press. “So I guess I can thank them a little bit for getting me more pumped up.”

New York won, 6-3.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: MEETING THE PRESS.

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  • Michael Foust