UK defence chief says Umm Qasr taken, Fao oil facilities intact, Iraqis surrendering

21 March 2003
UK Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Michael Boyce told a press conference in London on 21 March that the port city of Umm Qasr in the south of Iraq has fallen to US-led coalition forces, oil facilities in the Fao peninsula have been captured intact and that the coalition is close to the outskirts of Basra, Iraq's second largest city.

Boyce also said that large numbers of Iraqi soldiers have been surrendering. 'We are seeking to achieve our campaign objectives with the minimum of force,' Boyce said.

Responding to a question about progress in talks with the government of Turkey about securing the right for coalition forces to overfly Turkey, Boyce said that talks with Ankara are continuing. Observers say this suggests that agreement has yet to be reached about the terms of the offer of overflight rights approved on 20 March by the Turkish parliament. Turkey is reported to be demanding the right to deploy troops in northern Iraq in return for allowing overflights.

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