As US forces closed in on Baghdad and secured the airport, two ‘Thunder Runs’ were launched to assess the state of the Iraqi defences around the city. The first ‘Thunder Run’ on 5 April proceeded north towards the city and then turned west towards the airport, experiencing resistance and losing one tank with no casualties in the process. The second ‘Thunder Run’ on 7 April was intended to take the same route, however its commander, Colonel David Perkins, turned east towards the centre of the city to avoid strengthened defences along the previous route. After establishing US presence in the centre of the city and taking a number of key buildings along the river, an Iraqi counterattack initially pushed US forces to the west before petering out. Coalition forces occupied the city on 9 April amongst widespread civilian looting and the iconic destruction of the statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square.
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