WASHINGTON - Units of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division took the Presidential Palace in downtown Baghdad, demonstrating to the world that coalition forces can move at will, U.S. Central Command officials reported April 7.

Briefing the press in Qatar, Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said this second attack in downtown Baghdad "reinforces the reality that the regime is not in control of the city." Brooks is CENTCOM's deputy operations chief.

News reports said tanks and armored personnel carriers encountered Iraqi resistance as they moved into these areas, but they described it as "light" and not affecting coalition operations.

At the same time American soldiers were occupying the palace and parade ground, Iraqi spokesman Mohammad Saeed Safel was saying the Americans were "committing suicide" on the walls of Baghdad, and that he had not seen an American inside Baghdad.

British forces have made significant progress in Iraq's second-largest city, Basra. Brooks noted that the British are reducing the remaining concentrations of the regime's Ba'ath Party officials and death squads. "There are still some pockets (of resistance), but they are far fewer," he said.

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