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US tanks drove unhindered into public squares on the eastern bank of the Tigris for the first time, including the area surrounding the Palestine hotel, where the international media are based.
In a symbolic moment, an American armoured vehicle helped a crowd of cheering Iraqis to pull down a huge statue of Saddam Hussein in the Fardus square in front of the hotel.
he remains very cautious because he knows there is great danger that can still lie ahead".
US Central Command has "added Baghdad to the list of places the regime does not have control", spokesman Vincent Brooks told reporters at the daily Central Command briefing.
Television pictures showed people kicking images of Saddam Hussein and carrying off everything from elaborate vases to office furniture.
Our correspondent says people would not be behaving in this way unless they were sure Saddam Hussein's grip on the city had been broken.
"Senior regime people are moving out of Iraq into Syria and Syria is continuing to send things into Iraq. Mr Rumsfeld said he did not know the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein or whether he had survived the coalition advances.And, elsewhere in central Iraq, he says the situation in Hilla is unclear and there has been no word from Ramadi and Falluja In the north, Kurdish sources say Kurdish fighters backed by US special forces have taken control of a strategically important mountain near the city of Mosul.In eastern Iraq, US marines are close to linking up with UK troops coming from Basra in the south, opening an eastern supply corridor to Baghdad after taking positions without resistance on Tuesday, a BBC correspondent says.The Americans have been advancing from three directions.
There are still reports of resistance, particularly to the west of the city.But he added that, although the Shias who had been repressed by Saddam Hussein's regime were welcoming the marines as agents of change, the US is not popular in Iraq.