Securing Basra was one of the invasion’s most important initial objectives due to its size and its location in Iraq’s main oil producing region. The attack on the city soon deteriorated into a protracted siege, with many of its one million inhabitants trapped by the fighting, whilst also being deprived of electricity and water supplies. There were subsequent complaints about coalition use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium ammunition within the city. British forces launched raids into Basra to assess the strength of Iraqi forces. 3rd Commando Brigade attacked the southern suburbs on 27 March, whilst 120 Iraqi tanks moving south out of the city were engaged in a large battle with British tanks. This was followed up by Operation James, which launched into the south of the city on 30 March, and an assault on 31 March which captured the nearby bridge. The city was gradually secured throughout April whilst sporadic attacks continued within.
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