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Phase 1 of US Military Campaign Against Iraq Under Way
20 Mar 2003, 12:19 UTC
The United States launched a limited strike at specific targets
in and around Baghdad Thursday morning, in the first phase of
military action to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.
Iraq responded by firing several missiles at Kuwait.
At 5:30 a.m. local time Thursday, warning sirens wailed throughout
Baghdad. Moments later, U.S. bombers and Tomahawk missiles began
targeting what were described as "targets of opportunity."
Iraq responded with anti-aircraft guns.
Iraqi officials claim several civilians were wounded during
the attack, although that has not been confirmed by independent
sources. Police cars and ambulances were reported speeding through
the streets of Baghdad shortly after the attack.
Hours later, several Iraqi missiles hit in the northern frontier
of Kuwait, but there were no reported casualties.
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein appeared on national television
three hours after the attack, pledging that Iraq would be victorious.
It was not known if the broadcast was live.
His information minister, Mohammed Said Kazin al-Saahaf, held
a news conference and lashed out at U.S. officials, based on
reports that Thursday's strikes targeted Iraqi leaders. "I
am sure they are stupid and will never succeed," he said.
"But at the same time, this is good proof that they are
criminals, and they are killers, and they are believing in assassinations.
So, I think they should be condemned."
According to the Cable News Network as many as 2.5 million
leaflets were dropped by coalition forces Thursday morning.
The leaflets reportedly contained a drawing of a man wearing
a gas mask standing near an explosion. The leaflets told Iraqi
military personnel not to use weapons of mass destruction, and
said there would be retribution if such weapons are used.
An expected mass bombardment has not yet been launched.