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War with Iraq

Last post 07-16-2007, 3:04 AM by lastwarrior. 19 replies.
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  •  03-20-2003, 6:36 PM 2198

    War with Iraq

    U.S. and Britain Invade Iraq

    NORTHERN KUWAIT (Reuters) - U.S. and British forces invaded Iraq overnight, crossing the desert border from Kuwait under cover of an intense artillery barrage, as a second air raid pounded targets in Baghdad.

    As buildings blazed in the capital, officials in London and Washington said units of the U.S. Marine 1st Expeditionary Force and British Royal Marines had crossed into southern Iraq after nightfall.

    "The whole thing is kicking off tonight," a British military source told Reuters on Thursday. "British forces are engaged."

    U.S. officers said some Marine units had skirmished with Iraqi forces in the south.

    Reuters reporter Sean Maguire saw long columns of vehicles snaking through the moonlit desert toward the border, after repeated salvoes that lit up the horizon with flashes of fire.

    Artillery shells exploded west of Iraq's second city of Basra, only about 50 km (30 miles) from the Kuwaiti border. Sporadic bangs and flashes erupted every few seconds.

    The smell of gunpowder wafted across the border on a gentle breeze.

    Iraqi radio said cruise missiles had hit Saddam Hussein (news - web sites)'s family home in Baghdad at dawn during an initial attack U.S. officials said was intended to kill the Iraqi president.

    The evening attack hit Saddam's main palace in the city.

    Iraqi television said four Iraqi soldiers had been killed on Thursday and five wounded. It did not say where or how.

    Kuwait's KUNA news agency said U.S. and British forces had seized the Iraqi border town of Umm Qasr, Iraq's biggest commercial port. Iraqi state television denied the report.

    U.S. officials said the troop movements and the fresh wave of night bombing did not represent a massive military attack predicted by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

    "This is all part of the preparation," one said.

    President Bush has pledged to topple Saddam and destroy Iraq's alleged illegal arms programs. Saddam says that Iraq has no banned chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

    Targets in Baghdad, in addition to Saddam's main palace on the banks of the Tigris river, included buildings around the planning ministry in the center of the city and in the southeast. An office of Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz was among those hit.

    The whole western bank of the Tigris, which cuts through the city, was shrouded in smoke. Several government ministries are located on the west bank.


    To the east of the city, there were several explosions in the vicinity of the al Rashid military base.

    State radio said there were no casualties in the dawn attack on Saddam's family home, which U.S. officials described as an opportunistic hit after intelligence information thought to pinpoint his location.

    About 280,000 U.S. and British troops are in the Gulf region, many of them in Kuwait.

    Units spearheading the invasion crossed the Iraqi border after intense artillery barrages

    A CBS correspondent traveling with U.S. Marines said an unspecified number of Iraqi troops had surrendered.

    Earlier, Reuters correspondents along the border reported explosions along the frontier and in the direction of the southern city of Basra.

    "The first lot of big explosions came from the direction of Basra and then there were more west of that direction," said Reuters correspondent David Fox.

    An Iraqi military spokesman said a U.S. troop-carrying helicopter had been shot down. U.S. officials said two helicopters had crash landed along the border. No one on board was hurt and neither was hit by ground fire, they added.

    At least one U.S. unit reported coming under Iraqi fire.

    "A U.S. unit was targeted by Iraqi mortar fire this evening on the Kuwait-Iraq border," a U.S. military source said. There were no reports of casualties.

    An unidentified projectile landed harmlessly in the water near an offshore Kuwaiti oil loading terminal in the Gulf on Thursday evening, residents said.

    As military planners assessed the results of the dawn strike, the United States pledged to wage a war of unprecedented scope and ferocity.

    Throughout the day, thousands of U.S. troops in northern Kuwait donned their protective chemical suits during a series of alerts as Iraq fired up to four missiles at Kuwait.

    Air raid sirens wailed in Kuwait City twice after midnight, the fifth and sixth alerts there since the war began. On each occasion, jittery residents barely had time to run down into shelters before the all-clear sounded.

    There has been no evidence of chemical weapons being used.

  •  03-20-2003, 6:40 PM 2199 in reply to 2198

    Allied Forces Cross Into Southern Iraq

    SOUTHERN IRAQ - Allied forces crossed into southern Iraq (news - web sites) on Thursday after a thundering barrage of artillery that signaled the start of ground war. Infantrymen on the move, their weeks of waiting at an end, cheered as shells screamed overhead.

    Under the shelter of night, and with the support of heavy bombing, the 1st Marine Division entered Iraq at around 9 p.m. local time (1 p.m. EST). Traveling north in their armored vehicles, the Marines encountered some resistance from "rear guard" units; they opened fire with machine guns on an Iraqi T-55 tank and destroyed it with a Javelin, a portable anti-tank missile.

    There were no American casualties.

    A reporter for The Times of London reported that Royal Marine Commandos had also crossed into southern Iraq. According to this account, hundreds of British troops had attacked "Red Beach" at the head of the Persian Gulf.

    The British Marines were supported by a bombardment across the Khawr Abd Allah, the river estuary that separates Bubiyan Island in Kuwait from Iraq, according to the report.

    By taking southern Iraq, the allies would command access to the Persian Gulf and set the stage for the first major conquest on the way to Baghdad — Basra, Iraq's second largest city, just 20 miles from the Kuwait border.

    None of the forces apparently encountered chemical or biologicial weapons. But the Marines passed oil wells, possibly set on fire by the Iraqis. Flames shot hundreds of feet in the air, and the air was thick with black smoke.

    Artillery, mortars and howitzers rumbled for hours in the nearly deserted far north of Kuwait, mixed with bursts of rocket launchers. The explosions rattled tin roofs noisily on their wood frames miles away and shook concrete houses.

    The attack came at the end of a day that began with allied troops at the other end of the gun barrel, as Iraq — responding to the American bombardment of Baghdad and other targets — launched missiles into Kuwait, where allied forces were primed to attack.

    The Iraqi military claimed in a statement that it had repulsed an "enemy" attack at Al-Anbar province, on Iraq's border with Jordan and Saudi Arabia; it was not clear what force could be attacking from that point. It made no mention of the attacks at the tip of the Gulf.

    The Iraqis did deny a Kuwait News Agency report that the city of Umm Qasr had fallen to U.S. and British troops and hundreds of Iraqi soldiers had surrendered.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division's artillery opened fire on Iraq with Paladin self-propelled howitzers and multiple launch rocket systems. More than 100 artillery shells were fired toward southern Iraq in a five-minute barrage. White light glowed in the sky above the cannons, as explosions were heard from Iraq.

    No fire was being returned.

    Infantrymen, deployed between the howitzers and the Iraqi border, cheered as the 155 mm shells screamed overhead.

    Their targets were not clear, although it appeared this was not the start of the pedal-to-the-metal offensive promised by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld on Thursday — an assault with a "force and scope and scale that has been beyond what has been seen before."

    The shooting was unnerving to those within earshot, nonetheless. Foreign farm workers ran out in their yards in the dark, shouting. Pakistani and Indian farm workers shrank at each salvo. "Give me my passport," one field worker told his foreman.

    "The Americans are bombing to the left of us, to the right of us, the front, the backside, and I'm under it!" the foreman said later.

    Troops continued to stream toward the Iraq border. A huge convoy of trucks, tankers, humvees and every imaginable sort of military vehicle of the 101st Airborne Division rolled across the desert late Thursday night under a round white moon.

    Troops in the backs of heavy trucks rode with scarves pulled up across their faces as huge clouds of dust rose from the flat surface. Pairs of red tail lights and yellow headlights strung across the desert, filtered by a fog of dust.

    The convoy moved at a steady clip of about 30 mph, in a constant rumble of humvees and the grinding of huge tankers

    The troops were largely silent, getting down occasionally to stretch their legs when the convoy stopped to wait for any vehicles straggling in soft sand areas.

    Earlier in the day, the troops in waiting had their first brush with action when Iraq fired missiles into Kuwait. There were cries of "gas, gas, gas," and U.S. troops were sent scurrying for their protective suits and gas masks — for naught, as authorities said none of the missiles carried biological or chemical payloads.

    Soldiers of A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment were eating lunch when an Iraqi missile hit the desert. They wore the masks for 20 minutes until given the all-clear.

    After removing his mask, the company commander, Capt. Chris Carter of Watkinsville, Ga., said: "Saddam is a fool."

    "I think it's an obvious attempt by Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) to demoralize the army and the American public," Carter said. "An attempt that has been a miserable failure. He's probably got the guys more ready to fight than ever."

    The men of the unit returned to cleaning their weapons and reading books, waiting for their part of the war to begin with a new awareness of the hazards ahead.

    "I know what I'll be using as a pillow tonight," Staff Sgt. Bryce Ivings of Sarasota, Fla., said of his protective suit.

    After weeks on standby, U.S. troops were eager to get on with their mission.

    Some Marines were simply excited to begin fighting, something they had trained to do for years, and occasional screams of "Let's get it on!" came from some of their weapons holes.

    Others said they had no other way back to the United States but through Iraq.

    "Vegas is that way," Cpl. Matt Nale, 31, of Seattle, said, pointing north to the border. "That's my way to Vegas."

  •  03-20-2003, 6:44 PM 2200 in reply to 2199

    U.S. Attack Targets Iraq Republican Guard

    WASHINGTON - A second round of U.S.-led air attacks was launched Thursday night in Baghdad, but U.S. military officials said the assault was not the beginning of the massive air campaign the Pentagon has planned.

    The air attacks underway in Baghdad were sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles fired at Special Republican Guard strongholds in Baghdad, according to two senior defense officials with direct knowledge of the operation, who asked not to be identified.

    Thursday's airstrikes were not the beginning of the massive air assault that the Pentagon plans to unleash later, three officials said. Two of the officials said Thursday's strikes involved a smaller number of Tomahawks than Wednesday's opening volley, which numbered approximately 40.

    The latest attack included Tomahawk cruise missiles fired by British ships as well as American ships, one official said.

    A huge plume of smoke could be seen from the west bank of the Tigris in central Baghdad but it could not be determined what was hit.

    Meanwhile, F-14 and F-18 jets took off from the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the eastern Mediterranean, armed with missiles and bombs.

    The new attacks came shortly after senior U.S. military leaders said the war in Iraq may not be over quickly, and "there will be casualties."

    The war's opening salvos before dawn Thursday were aimed directly at Iraq's leaders, including President Saddam Hussein .

    Commanders relied on more than 40 cruise missiles launched from Navy ships and submarines in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, and 2,000-pound precision-guided bombs dropped by Air Force stealth fighter jets, military officials said.

    Iraq may have set fire to three or four oil wells in south Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said.

    The Pentagon has overhead photos of the fires, which were located less than two miles north of the Kuwaiti border and about 50 miles southwest of the city of Basra, a defense official said later on condition of anonymity.

    Point Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers warned that the war won't be easy for the United States.

    "We do not regard combat as an easy task," Myers said at the Pentagon. "Warfare is dangerous. We will have casualties."

    The Pentagon assessed the damage Thursday from its initial strikes against targets in Iraq and primed for a broader assault involving 250,000 U.S. and coalition forces.

    "We have a serious task before us, to remove that regime," Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon. "This is a process that takes some time."

    A senior military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said military intelligence was seeing some evidence of disarray in Iraqi leadership. It was too early to say if any of them were killed or wounded.

    Rumsfeld said the assault "was the first. It will not likely be the last."

    Rumsfeld was asked whether military planners knew Saddam's location Wednesday night.

    "We had what I would characterize as very good intelligence that it was a senior Iraqi leadership compound. We do not know what the battle damage assessment" will be, he said.

    Officials said the surprise attack was the product of a complex operation that benefited from electronic spying and other intelligence, special military operations, and changes in technology that permitted military chiefs to more quickly reconfigure the cruise missiles for a special, pinpointed attack.

    Rumsfeld warned Iraqis not to go to work, but to stay in their homes and listen to coalition radio broadcasts.

    "The day of your liberation may soon be at hand," Rumsfeld said. "The days of the Saddam Hussein regime are numbered. We continue to feel there is no need for a broader conflict if the Iraqi leaders act to save themselves and to prevent such further conflict."

    A helicopter carrying U.S. special forces crashed inside southern Iraq hours before the missile strikes Wednesday night, a senior defense official said. There were no casualties and the troops on board were all taken out safely, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said the military was taking steps to destroy the helicopter rather than let it fall into Iraqi hands.

    The incident makes clear the Pentagon was using a well-worn war tactic of dropping special commando forces behind enemy lines before the opening of the rest of the campaign.

    Officials declined to say exactly where the crash occurred. But a widely discussed part of the war plan has been to send special forces into the country to secure oil wells, suspected chemical weapons sites and other strategic locations — as well as to search out Iraqi leadership.

    The defense official also said a small plane headed from Iraq toward a Marine expeditionary force position in Kuwait but crashed short of its mark. The Marines donned gas masks because of fears that the plane could have been carrying chemical weapons, the official said. No agents were detected
  •  03-20-2003, 6:49 PM 2201 in reply to 2200

    Cruise Missiles Hit Saddam Palace in Baghdad

    BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. cruise missiles slammed into President Saddam Hussein's main Baghdad palace on Thursday night during an attack that set buildings ablaze in the city and caused massive explosions.

    Missiles flew in at low altitude and hit a string of targets across the Iraqi capital in a second wave of missile attacks after a dawn raid, Reuters witnesses said About 300 miles to the southeast, U.S. and British units crossed the border into Iraq from Kuwait at the start of an invasion that Washington says will topple Saddam.

    The missiles hit Saddam's main sprawling palace complex on the banks of the Tigris in central Baghdad. Iraqi radio said no one was hurt in a separate attack early on Thursday when missiles hit a family home of Saddam.

    Fires broke out around the planning ministry in the center of Baghdad and other blazes could be seen in the southeast of the city.

    Fire fighters and ambulances were at the scene. One of the buildings housed an office of Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz. Sirens sounded an all-clear shortly before 5 p.m. EST.

    The whole western bank of the Tigris river which cuts through the city was shrouded in smoke. Several government ministries are located on the west bank.

    To the east of the city there were several explosions in the vicinity of the al Rashid military base.

    The blasts came shortly after air-raid sirens sounded in Baghdad and anti-aircraft fire lit up the night sky.

    Witnesses said that the attack was more intense than previous strikes early on Thursday, which began Washington's war against Iraq.

    In the dawn attack, the United States struck with cruise missiles and stealth aircraft in an opportunist hit aimed at killing Saddam and his entourage in Baghdad.


    The Iraqi government said one civilian died in the first raids and several others were injured. It said that the strikes hit empty buildings and civilian districts.

    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the dawn missile and bombing attacks in and around Baghdad were just a taste of what would soon be unleashed.

    "What will follow will not be a repeat of any other conflict. It will be of a force and scope and scale that has been beyond what has been seen before," he said.

    Saddam appeared on television three hours after the first strikes on Baghdad, denouncing the "criminal, reckless little Bush." He urged Iraqis to resist the coming U.S. invasion and promised a historic victory.

  •  03-21-2003, 5:15 PM 2203 in reply to 2201

    Troops seize key airfields, oil fields

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. and British troops have seized, in lightning raids, two strategically important airfields in western Iraq and strategic oil fields in southern Iraq, according to a senior U.S. military official.

    The two western Iraq airfields, known as H-2 and H-3, are considered important to the continued military operation inside Iraq.

    The field known as H-3 is also considered by U.S. intelligence to be a potential site of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, according to an informed official.

    The captured oil fields are located west of Basra.

    Retreating Iraqi soldiers have torched seven oil wells in southern Iraq, according to British Chief of Staff Adm. Michael Boyce on Friday.

    Earlier, UK Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said up to 30 oil wells had been set afire.

    In Ar Rumaylah, U.S. Marines battled four oil well fires during the night, bringing two of them under control by dawn, said Philip Ray Smith, a pool reporter embedded with Britain's 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery.

    Plumes of charcoal gray smoke with flames at the base could be seen easily from a distance, he said.

    British Royal Air Force spokesman Jon Fynes told CNN the burning wells were "the real shame."

    Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is "setting fire to his oil wells and it has no tactical advantage," he said. "The modern weapons that we have don't have to see the targets."

    "Once again, he's only hurting his own people, not us," Fynes said.

    Groups of specially trained firefighters, or "oil capping teams," were traveling with the Marines, and were trying to contain a third oil well fire Friday morning, leaving only one of the wells burning out of control.

    He said a primary objection of the ground troops was to secure the oil wells before Iraqi troops could sabotage them.

    But even before the British artillery unit left Kuwait, they were told the four oil and gas separation plants had been set on fire. Smith said the regiment's mission now was to "try and tackle those blazes the best they can."

    These particular refineries are said to be massive and generated a vast amount of oil revenue for Iraq.

    The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said satellite images released on Thursday showed plumes consistent "in detecting oil fires in the past from satellites in space."

    Saddam has ordered oil wells set ablaze in the past.

    After his forces invaded Kuwait in August 1990, and coalition forces were massing together to force them out, Saddam said if he had to be evicted by force, then Kuwait would be burned.

    As promised, Iraqi troops set fire to more than 700 oil wells in several Kuwaiti oil fields in 1991 as they were retreating.

    Officials from the Kuwait Oil Company reported that all of Kuwait's oil fields had been damaged or destroyed by the Iraqis.

    The United States helped Kuwait in an international, nine-month effort to extinguish the blazes.

    Before the fires, Iraq was responsible for intentionally releasing some 11 million barrels of oil into the Persian Gulf from January to May 1991, soiling more than 800 miles of Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian coastline.

    The amount of oil released was categorized as 20 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska and twice as large as the previous world record oil spill.

    The cost of cleanup was estimated at more than $700 million
  •  03-21-2003, 5:17 PM 2204 in reply to 2203

    Massive firestorm targets Iraqi leadership

    BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. forces plan to drop more than 1,500 bombs and missiles across Iraq in the first 24 hours of its "shock and awe" campaign that began Friday, Pentagon officials said.

    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the air campaign had shaken up the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, which he said is "starting to lose control of their country."

    "The confusion of Iraqi officials is growing," Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon briefing. "Their ability to see what is happening on the battlefield, to communicate with their forces and to control their country is slipping away."

    Rumsfeld said the bombing was stepped up Friday after senior Iraqi officers failed to turn against Saddam following initial U.S. airstrikes Thursday, including one aimed at Saddam himself, and a U.S. and British invasion of southern Iraq.

    "What we've done so far has not been sufficiently persuasive," Rumsfeld said.

    Rumsfeld said he did not know the fate of Saddam or whether leadership had changed hands, saying he only had "scraps of information."

    A top Iraqi military commander surrendered to U.S. Marines Friday, along with his top deputy, American military officials told the New York Times.

    The commander was in charge of Iraq's 51st Division, a regular army unit deployed in southern Iraq directly in the path of the allied invasion.

    In the first strike against Iraq Wednesday night, coalition forces targeted a residential compound in Baghdad where Saddam, his sons and other top officials may have been hiding, according to U.S. officials. An intelligence service headquarters and Republican Guard facility in the city were also hit.

    "There's no question but that strike on that leadership headquarters was successful," Rumsfeld said. "We have photographs of what took place. The question is, What was in there."

    In an attempt to convince the world that Saddam survived the bombing, Iraqi state television broadcast pictures of what it said was the Iraqi leader meeting Friday with his son Qusay.

    White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said, however, the U.S. has "no concrete facts" to indicate Saddam or his sons survived the airstrikes.

    Punishing air attacks
    The punishing air attacks rocked the Baghdad night Friday, with thunderous explosions that filled the skies with flames and huge clouds of smoke.

    The massive Republican Palace complex along the winding Tigris River apparently took the brunt of the attack.

    Heavy bombing also shook the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. At least 20 major blasts were heard in the Kirkuk area alone.

    U.S. officials said one of the weapons being used was a new 2,000-pound bomb designed to limit collateral damage for optimal use in an urban environment.

    Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said coalition warplanes had flown more than 1,000 sorties and "dropped scores of precision-guided munitions" on Iraqi military targets so far.

    Iraqi Information Minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahaf said Friday night's airstrikes had seriously damaged Baghdad's "Peace Palace" and called the U.S.-led coalition arrayed against Iraq "mercenaries."

    The Peace Palace is used for visiting dignitaries. Al-Sahaf said the "Flowers Palace" -- a museum that once was a palace for the king during the days of royal rule -- also was hit.

    'A huge wave of steel'
    Meanwhile, coalition forces continued to make gains on the ground. Meyers said coalition troops already had traveled 100 miles inside Iraq from Kuwait.

    One caravan of Bradley fighting vehicles and M1A1 Abrams and other vehicles was heading unimpeded toward Baghdad in what CNN Correspondent Walter Rodgers described as "a huge wave of steel" that stretched for 20 miles.

    Rodgers, who is accompanying the 3rd Squadron of the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, lead element of the 3rd Infantry Division, said the U.S. forces could reach Baghdad in two to four days.

    U.S. Navy SEALs and coalition special forces troops seized two major gas and oil terminals in the northern Persian Gulf, Myers said.

    The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and coalition troops secured the port city of Umm Qasr in the Faw Peninsula and the main oil manifolds along the waterways there. Myers said Iraq's southern oil fields should be secured sometime Friday.

    Marines en route to the oil fields near Basra passed homes and office buildings displaying white flags and returned the friendly waves of villagers, according to a CNN reporter traveling with them.

    Iraqi state television broadcast pictures of what it says is President Saddam Hussein meeting Friday with his son Qusay.
    One U.S. Marine was killed during the oil field operation, becoming the first coalition combat fatality of the war, Marine officials said. The Marine was based at Camp Pendleton, California. A second Marine was killed during the fight for Umm Qasr.

    Troops of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division followed other allied forces into Iraq, entering from Kuwait to little resistance Friday.

    U.S. and British troops also seized two strategically important airfields in western Iraq during lightning raids, a senior U.S. military official said.

    The two airfields, known as H-2 and H-3, are considered important to the continued military operation inside Iraq. U.S. intelligence suspects the H-3 field may be a weapons of mass destruction site, according to an informed official.

    Other developments
    • Tens of thousands of protesters in Cairo, Egypt, pelted police with rocks and vowed to burn down the U.S. Embassy and kick out the ambassador. Riot police used batons and water cannon to disperse the crowds. Protesters also hit the street in Jordan, Yemen and Lebanon, venting their rage against the United States and its allies.

    • Australian-led coalition forces captured an Iraqi tugboat that apparently was preparing to lay sea mines in the Persian Gulf, said Brig. Maurie McNarn, the top Australian military official in the U.S.-led coalition. McNarn said Australian soldiers have been involved with several firefights with Iraqis.

    A U.S. Marine CH-46 helicopter crashed in northern Kuwait early Friday morning, killing all 12 people on board -- eight British military personnel and four American crew members, Pentagon officials said. The accident took place about nine miles south of the Iraqi border. (Full story)

    • Iraqi authorities Friday expelled CNN's four journalists from Baghdad effective immediately, said CNN Chief News Executive Eason Jordan. The CNN team planned to leave for the Jordanian border at the first opportunity, Jordan said.

    • U.S. military planners are devising strategies in case the Iraqi military triggers a flood of the Tigris River, the Pentagon said Friday. If the Iraqi military was to release water into the Tigris from upstream reservoirs, extensive flooding could occur between Baghdad and Kut, displacing thousands of Iraqis. (Full story)

    • Umm Qasr was a main port for the United Nations' oil for food program, which used proceeds from oil sales to provide food for Iraqis. The U.S.-led coalition expects to be able to start using the port to bring in humanitarian aid within a few days, officials said.

    • A rocket hit an oil refinery Friday in Iran close to its border with Iraq, injuring one person, but it was not known where the rocket came from, Iranian government sources told CNN.

  •  03-22-2003, 2:57 AM 2206 in reply to 2204

    7 killed as UK helicopters collide

    DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- Six British crewmembers and one American were killed Saturday when two British Navy Sea King search and rescue helicopters collided in mid-air over the Persian Gulf, UK Central Command in Qatar said.

    The accident occurred at 4:30 a.m. (8:30 p.m. ET Friday), Pentagon officials said. Three British crew members were aboard each helicopter, the officials said. The identity of the American was not clear.

    According to British military sources, the helicopters were involved in fleet defense and were not carrying troops.

    A full search and rescue mission began immediately after the crash, coalition officials said.

    The helicopters came down in international waters at about 4:30 a.m. Saturday (0130 GMT), shortly after taking off from a British naval ship. Officials said the accident occurred within sight of the ship.

    The accident is the second involving coalition forces in two days. On Friday a U.S. Marine CH-46 helicopter crashed in Kuwait, killing all 12 people aboard.

    The eight British and four American dead were the first coalition casualties of the war against Iraq.

  •  03-23-2003, 4:21 PM 2207 in reply to 2206

    UK plane shot down by Patriot

    DOHA, Qatar (CNN) -- A Tornado GR4 aircraft returning from an operational mission has been shot down by a Patriot missile near the Kuwait border, a British military spokesman has said.

    The Tornado's crew members are listed as missing and investigations are underway.

    "Something probably went wrong in some way, but we're in an incredibly busy environment ... with every pilot focused on what they're doing," spokesman Capt. Jon Fynes said.

    Fynes said investigators will look for something obvious that can be fixed easily, but if it can't be fixed "today or tomorrow, it will be fixed."

    Joint Chief of Staffs chairman, Gen. Richard Myers pointed to a possible breakdown of the "elaborate procedures and electronic means to identify friendly and enemy aircraft" as causing the incident.

    "Central Command is looking into that as we speak," Myers said Sunday on ABC's This Week.

    "People have to react in a hostile environment; mistakes can happen," Fynes said.

    The loss of the aircraft comes after two deadly accidents involving helicopters belonging to U.S. and British forces.

    Six British crew members and one American were killed Saturday in a midair collision between two British Navy Sea King helicopters over the Persian Gulf, according to the UK Central Command in Qatar and the Pentagon.

    On Friday, a U.S. Marine CH-46 helicopter crashed in Kuwait, killing all 12 people aboard.

    The eight British and four American dead were the first coalition casualties of the war against Iraq.

  •  04-02-2003, 12:07 AM 2221 in reply to 2207

    Two rescued after U.S. plane slips off carrier

    The crew of two aboard the S-3B Viking aircraft ejected from the tanker plane after it swerved off the deck of theUSS Constellation and before it hit the water. Both were rescued by swimmers dropped from a helicopter.

    Early indications are that the airplane's brakes or some other mechanics malfunctioned, according to Navy spokesmen.

    The aircraft made a successful landing on the carrier with the tailhook on the plane catching one of the arresting cables strung across the landing runway. Usually, the plane would then taxi to the right and park before it's moved below deck on an elevator.

    The plane instead rolled to the left and dropped off the side of the ship, catching briefly in the safety netting along the edge of the deck. The delay gave the crew enough time to eject before the aircraft hit the water.

    At least one search-and-rescue helicopter is always flying near aircraft carriers during flight operations so that rescue can begin immediately after any accident.

    Constellation's last deployment
    The S-3 Viking is a twin-engine jet aircraft that is configured to be used as an in-flight refueling tanker, an anti-submarine warfare aircraft or an electronic support aircraft.

    Normal safety procedure includes an escort ship trailing behind and alongside the aircraft carrier with an inflatable boat ready to drop into the water with rescue swimmers aboard. The frigate USS Thach performed that role today and reached the two pilots as the helicopter arrived on the scene, a Navy statement says.

    This is the first fixed-wing aircraft to be lost during Operation Iraqi Freedom, although helicopters have been lost.

    The aircraft was the last of the day to return to the Constellation as flight operations at 5:10 a.m. (local time), the Navy said.

    This is the last deployment for the USS Constellation before it is retired from the fleet.

  •  04-02-2003, 12:09 AM 2222 in reply to 2221

    Official: U.S. launches 'major' offensive in Iraq

    The new offensive targeted against at least two Republican Guard divisions -- the Medina and Baghdad -- south of the Iraqi capital, in what could be the beginning of the battle for Baghdad.

    One Pentagon official said U.S. forces are engaging Iraqi Republican Guard troops in a major fight in Karbala.

    The new offensive came after U.S.-led coalition forces in the Persian Gulf region began receiving a battle plan suggesting the focus of the ground war would soon shift to Baghdad, according to U.S. military officials.

    Gen. Tommy Franks, chief of U.S. Central Command, will not have to consult with President Bush or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld before moving on the Iraqi capital, officials told CNN.

    Franks is not locked into a time frame and will seize the "tactical advantage" when the time is right, the officials said.

  •  04-02-2003, 11:16 PM 2224 in reply to 2222

    U.S. Army Black Hawk shot down

    (CNN) -- A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter was shot down by small arms fire Wednesday night in south-central Iraq, military officials said, but there were conflicting reports on casualties.

    The Pentagon said seven soldiers were killed and four others wounded and rescued. But a statement from U.S. Central Command headquarters in Qatar said only six people were on the Black Hawk and that casualties could not be confirmed.

    The Central Command statement said the chopper crashed around 7:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m. EST).

    Col. Tom Bright, the Marine Corps chief at the U.S. Central Command's joint operations center in Qatar, said an investigation has been launched into what happened.

    The crash happened near Karbala, about 50 miles from Baghdad. The city has seen heavy fighting in recent days between coalition forces and Iraqi Republican Guard units.

    Meanwhile, a U.S. Navy F/A-18C Hornet went down over Iraq early Thursday. A search-and-rescue operation has been launched, U.S. officials said. The single-seat fighter jet from the USS Kitty Hawk went down around 12:45 a.m. Thursday (3:45 p.m. ET Wednesday). Further details were not immediately available.

  •  04-05-2003, 8:46 AM 2227 in reply to 2224

    Baghdad operation sends 'clear signal'

    BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. forces moved by daylight into the heart of Baghdad on Saturday, demonstrating coalition troops' ability to strike the Iraqi capital "at the time and place of their choosing," according to the U.S. Central Command.

    In a briefing at Central Command headquarters in Qatar, Air Force Maj. Gen. Vincent Renuart said two task forces of the U.S Army's 3rd Infantry Division conducted an operation from south of the Iraqi capital north to the Tigris River and then west toward Baghdad's airport, which is under coalition control.

    "It was, I think, a clear statement of the ability of the coalition forces to move into Baghdad at the time and place of their choosing," Renuart said.

    While just outside the capital, CNN correspondent Walter Rodgers, who is embedded with the lead element of the 3rd Infantry Division -- the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry -- described the incursion as a reconnaissance mission.

    "It does appear very clearly from the maps we've seen that what the army is striving to do at this point is carve out chunks of the city," Rodgers said. "Bite off a chunk of Baghdad and then take that chunk and literally dismember the city zone by zone so that each of these zones falls under the control of the U.S. Army."

    Sources in Baghdad told CNN's Nic Robertson that they'd spotted U.S. troops in several parts of the city and that gunfire and sirens were heard.

    Sources also spoke of seeing Iraqi forces, including tanks, gathered mostly on the western part of Baghdad. Those sources described those Iraqi troops as including Republican Guard and Fedayeen Saddam fighters and forming a "front-line position."

  •  04-06-2003, 6:00 PM 2232 in reply to 2227

    U.S. planes land at Baghdad airport

    NEAR BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The first U.S. military planes landed at Baghdad's international airport Sunday night as U.S. forces tightened their control over the Iraqi capital, U.S. military officials said.

    Army officials told CNN's Walter Rodgers that two C-130s and a C-17 cargo plane were flying into the city under the cover of darkness, two days after U.S. troops captured the facility.

    U.S. Marines and Army forces control all roads into and out of Baghdad, encircling the city, according to Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    "It is a huge perimeter," Pace said on CNN's "Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer." "I don't want your viewers to think there's a soldier every 10 or 15 feet. But we do control all the roads."

    Forces from the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division made reconnaissance forays into Baghdad for the second day Sunday and faced sporadic resistance, said Rodgers, who is embedded with the division's 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry. (On the Scene)

    U.S. Central Command said more than 2,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed or wounded Saturday when coalition forces swept through Baghdad on initial reconnaissance missions.

    At a briefing Sunday at Central Command headquarters in Qatar, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said the coalition force "continues to isolate Baghdad, denying any reinforcements or any escape by regime military forces."

    Another Central Command spokesman said Iraqi forces were using the Mother of All Battles Mosque and Saddam Hospital -- both on the coalition's "no-strike" list in Baghdad -- as bases of military operations.

    Marines have raided a camp in the town of Salman Pak used to train non-Iraqi fighters in terror tactics, said Brooks, adding that coalition forces have encountered a number of non-Iraqi troops in battle.

    "Some came from Sudan ... Egypt," he said. "We've killed a number of them, and we've captured a number of them."

    Meanwhile, a column of U.S. Marine Corps vehicles moved slowly north Sunday morning toward Baghdad, taking aim at small pockets of resistance.

    The 1st Battalion, 7th Marines was held back for part of the night by heavy fighting, reported CNN Correspondent Martin Savidge, who is embedded with the unit.

    Iraq contends it is making progress in resisting U.S. forces. At a briefing, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf talked of the destruction of tanks and armored personnel carriers and the downing of two Apache helicopters.

    Denying that U.S. troops are occupying Baghdad's airport, al-Sahaf said, "The enemy was destroyed and retreated." He said U.S. forces got close enough to the airport to make it look as if they were there but that reports of U.S. troops in the area were nothing more than "propaganda."

  •  04-07-2003, 2:59 PM 2238 in reply to 2232

    U.S. forces storm through Baghdad

    (CNN) -- American tanks and armored vehicles rumbled into Baghdad Monday, storming one of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's main presidential palaces and destroying symbols of his regime.

    South of the Iraqi capital, U.S. troops found drums of what may be chemical weapons materials at an agricultural complex near Karbala, military officials said Monday.

    Gen. Benjamin Freakly of the 101st Airborne Division said tests performed Monday indicate the presence of nerve and blister agents, but he added, the test sometimes shows false positives. More samples are being tested.

    Meanwhile, some 25 miles east of Mosul -- the largest Iraqi city remaining under regime control -- coalition forces Monday were approaching the main highway connecting Mosul to Kirkuk, hoping to cut off those cities from each other.

    The move comes as coalition forces consolidate positions in an effort to choke off and surround all major Iraqi cities, including those in the north.

    According to defectors, there are no Republican Guard troops operating in northern Iraq, but there has been very active Iraqi artillery resistance during the coalition bombings, which have taken place almost every day for the past two weeks.

    In Baghdad, Iraqis offered little resistance, but later an Iraqi missile slammed into the tactical operations center for the U.S. Army's 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division.

    At least four people, including two soldiers and two journalists, were killed and 15 were wounded in the strike, military sources said, while two Marines died in a separate firefight east of Baghdad.

    In addition, at least nine Iraqi civilians died and 13 others were wounded when an apartment block in Baghdad's Mansour neighborhood was hit, according to CNN sources who went to the scene. A large crater was visible, and a restaurant and an apartment building were destroyed.

    Iraqis told the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. they believe coalition air raids caused the damage. U.S. Central Command in Qatar had no immediate comment.

    "We did not originally leave [Baghdad] because we were confident that we were not going to be bombed, but the Americans who claimed they came here under the slogan, 'Rescue the Iraqis,' did indeed bomb us," a resident told the Lebanese network.

    Fighting also raged in southern Iraq, where British forces increased their control over Basra, as well as northern Iraq, where coalition forces captured a key ridge between Mosul and Kirkuk.

    U.S. officials characterized earlier incursions into Baghdad as raids and reconnaissance missions, but Army sources said that the 2nd Brigade units will not withdraw from the city after moving in Monday.

    "The commanders on the ground will make the decisions on what parts of Baghdad they wish to retain control of," Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said at a Central Command briefing.

    Brooks noted that coalition forces destroyed numerous Iraqi tanks, armored personnel carriers and infantry units in the northwest part of the capital.

    U.S. tanks rolled through the city's parade field, adjacent to the Al-Rashid Hotel in the heart of the city, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Ron Martz told CNN. American forces blew up a 40-foot statue of Saddam in Baghdad's Zawra Park, Martz added, and struck several other symbolic and functional regime targets.

    Several fires burned near one of Saddam's palaces on the northwest bank of the Tigris River as people ran away from U.S. tanks, according to video shown on the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp.

    "It can't be anything but alarming to see a [coalition] brigade commander standing in the compound of a presidential palace in Baghdad," a Pentagon official said.

    "This sends a powerful message to the remnants of the regime that we can go where we want when we want."

    An Army officer said some U.S. soldiers tried to raise an American flag, incensing some Baghdad residents, according to CNN's Walter Rodgers, who is embedded with the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry of the 3rd Infantry Division.

    Standing in the smoke-filled streets of Baghdad on Monday, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf refused to acknowledge the U.S. raids.

    "The soldiers of Saddam Hussein have given them a lesson they will never forget," al-Sahaf said.
  •  04-09-2003, 10:57 AM 2250 in reply to 2238

    Fall of Saddam

    BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- In a symbolic strike against Saddam Hussein's crumbling regime, Iraqis and U.S. Marines on Wednesday pulled down a towering statue of the Iraqi leader at Baghdad's center.

    Marines watched as dozens of Iraqis tied a rope around the statue in Firdos Square and then took turns pounding at the base of the monument with a sledgehammer. An American M-88 tank recovery vehicle, equipped with a large crane, moved in a few minutes later to help pull the statue crashing to the ground.

    The Marines put a chain around the neck of the statue and covered its head with a U.S. flag briefly, before replacing it with an Iraqi flag. That flag also was removed before the statue was pulled down.

    Iraqis then jumped and stomped on the statue, which had been erected last April 28 to celebrate Saddam's birthday, and then pulled its head through the streets.

    Those Marines were greeted by journalists and cheering Iraqis as they took up positions in central Baghdad, but fierce fighting raged elsewhere in the Iraqi capital.

    "We thought we were going to get a lot of resistance but we never did, so we just kept pushing and pushing until we got here," said Cpl. Steven Harris with the Marines in the square.

    It was a different story for a U.S. Marine column moving into Baghdad from the east, which came under heavy fire Wednesday afternoon at Baghdad University after being greeted by cheering Iraqis earlier in the day.

    CNN Correspondent Martin Savidge, embedded with the 1st Marines, 7th Battalion, said the university campus was a battlefield, with black smoke rising from several buildings and machine-gun fire ripping around the fighting vehicles.

    "This was not the exact reception ... anticipated," Savidge reported while under fire. "There's a lot of smoke and dust now and fire. ... [It's] a far cry from the jubilant crowds ... just hard to imagine two blocks away."

    Savidge said the fighting ignited an ammunition cache on the campus, which burned and exploded for about 45 minutes after the Marines secured the area.

    Fighting also continued in northeast Baghdad, according to Roland Huguenin-Benjamin with the International Committee of the Red Cross. He said a Red Cross convoy was hit, and no one had been able to reach the wounded because of the crossfire.

    In the Baghdad suburb of Saddam City, residents were in the streets, celebrating the apparent end of the Iraqi regime. A Shiite Muslim leader told a group of 400 to 500 people, "The tyrant of the world is finished, thanks to the coalition. Thank God for Iraq the victorious."

    International media showed video of looting in and around Baghdad. Dozens of people were seen hauling off furniture, fixtures and office supplies, using wheelbarrows and pickups, with no security forces to stop them. Others ripped down posters of Saddam and destroyed them -- kicking, punching and spitting on the pictures.

    Residents in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil spilled out onto the streets as well in passionate but less-raucous demonstrations, waving flags, tossing confetti and chanting.

    At a briefing Wednesday at U.S. Central Command headquarters in Qatar, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said coalition officials were somewhat concerned about the unrest but said they believe it will "settle down in due time."

    "I think in this case we're seeing a lot of jubilation and people who have long been oppressed for years and years having choices," Brooks said.

    Saddam's fate remains a mystery after Monday's B-1 bomber strike on a Baghdad building where U.S. officials suspected he was meeting with senior aides, but coalition officials said that there were signs that his regime was losing control of the country, even before Wednesday's demonstrations.

    A senior U.S. Army officer said Wednesday that "the majority of Iraqi forces [in the Baghdad area] have now given up."

    Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, who been the public face of the Iraqi government during the war, did not appear Wednesday for his daily briefing. The government minders, who have shadowed international reporters for the last 12 years, were not at the Palestine Hotel, which is the base for many journalists, CNN's Rula Amin reported.

    The U.S. Army has airlifted more armor into a coalition-controlled air base in northern Iraq early Wednesday, preparing for a push south along the northern front.

    Tanks, armored personnel carriers and Bradley fighting vehicles were moved from a base in Germany to Harir airfield, near the city of Erbil, where the Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade is deployed, reported CNN Correspondent Steve Nettleton, embedded in the area.

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