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Franks Visits Frontline Troops in Iraq

Franks Visits Frontline Troops in Iraq

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CAMP AS SAYLIYAH, Qatar (AP) -- Wearing camouflaged body armor and a black beret, U.S. war commander Gen. Tommy Franks visited frontline troops in Iraq on Monday. He joked about hometowns, posed for photos and listened to progress reports.

The four-star general left his headquarters outside Doha, Qatar, by Blackhawk helicopter and visited several towns, including the Shiite holy city of Najaf, site of a suicide bombing that killed four U.S. soldiers late last month.

Among the troops Franks met were those of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, the Army's 101st Airborne Division and the British 1st Armored Division outside Basra.

Franks did not go to Baghdad, and returned to the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain.

He took photos with some of the troops and shared their battlefield rations, the plastic-wrapped MREs, or meals-ready-to-eat.

Field commanders briefed Franks on the early Monday capture of the presidential palace in Baghdad, the status of seized weapons, and the humanitarian plight of Iraqi civilians.

He was told that 110 schools in the Najaf area had been used as weapons depots by Iraqi troops and that drinkable water, not food or medicine, was the top humanitarian need of civilians.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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