A FIERCE battle was said to be raging today on the banks of the River Tigris, as US Marines battled with Saddam Hussein loyalists around a mosque where it was rumoured the dictator himself may be hiding.

One Marine was reported killed in the fighting, against Iraqis thought to be possibly members of the Special Republican Guard.

The fighting seemed to confirm the cautious estimates of American military and political leaders, who warned that the war in Iraq was not yet over, following yesterday's remarkable scenes in Baghdad and the symbolic toppling of Saddam.

There was as yet no firm news of the fate of the Iraqi president. Some had claimed he may be hiding out in the Russian embassy, others that he would head into Syria in disguise.

Baghdad's people woke this morning to see US tanks stationed in key positions in the streets. The skies were free of allied planes, though there were explosions coming from parts of the city's outskirts.

Many ordinary people are said to fear the consequences of any breakdown in order following the fall of the Saddam regime in the capital.

In the southern city of Basra British forces are to operate a guns amnesty, and they have had success in curbing widespread looting.

In New York Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammed al-Douri, admitted "the game was over" in the war with the US-led forces, and said his work was "now peace". Arab nations have decided to withdraw a call for a meeting of the UN General Assembly to debate a possible ceasefire in Iraq.

Updated: 08:44 Thursday, April 10, 2003