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SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq (AP) -- Coalition warplanes struck Iraqi positions Monday in the fight to advance on the two main northern cities still in Iraqi control, and pounded military targets on southern routes toward Baghdad, officials and witnesses said.
American soldiers and Kurdish fighters took the town of Dibagah, near the site of a U.S. friendly fire incident that killed 17 Kurdish fighters and a translator a day earlier.
But nearby, a strategic crossroads between the north's largest cities of Mosul and oil-rich Kirkuk remained a no man's land, with Iraqi soldiers holding positions above the crossroads and Kurdish fighters pulling back as U.S. planes hit the Iraqi forces.
At Khazer, due east of Mosul, Iraqis held a position west of a strategic bridge they lost to the Kurds last week, and the Kurds pulled back east of the bridge to clear the way for airstrikes.
In the front line town of Chamchamal, 20 miles east of Kirkuk, witnesses reported explosions Sunday night.
Kurdish fighters based in Chamchamal were sending military convoys into stretches of land recently abandoned by Iraqi troops, said Omar bin Abdul Aziz, a reporter for the independent newspaper Hawlati.
In the south of the Kurdish autonomous region, Kurdish military commander Mola Bakhtiyar said coalition airplanes and missiles struck Iraqi front line positions guarding northern routes to Baghdad, as well as military garrisons in the oil-rich Khaneqin area, including Marwari, Sadi and Jelowla.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) APTV-04-07-03 1326MDT