Reinforcements Arrive in North

By Steve Vogel

IRBIL, Iraq, April 8 (Tuesday) -- Heavy tanks began arriving today to reinforce an Army airborne brigade that is positioned in the Kurdish autonomous zone, officers said, a major boost in firepower that could be used to support U.S. offensive operations in northern Iraq.

The M1-A1 Abrams tanks from the 1st Infantry Division in Germany are being flown aboard C-17 transport planes to the Bashur airfield northwest of Irbil. A reinforced mechanized company, including tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M-113 armored personnel carriers, is being sent to join the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which reached the Bashur airfield nearly two weeks ago.

Sunday night, the brigade launched its first attack against Iraqi forces. Task Force Red Devil, a battalion-sized force positioned at the Irbil airfield, conducted an artillery raid on infantry positions across the Great Zab River. The attack caused many casualties and panic among officers, who began firing all their weapons in anticipation of a U.S. infantry assault. "This was a good mission," said Lt. Col. Sean Callahan, the brigade deputy commander.