The United States has launched what officials described as
surgical strikes meant to kill Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his top
U.S. bombers, fighter-jets and naval forces participated in what
President George Bush called the opening stage of the war against Iraq.
On Thursday afternoon, Iraqi forces fired five Al Samoud and Scud
missiles in three salvos toward U.S. Army positions in northern Kuwait, Middle East Newsline reported. The
army fired Patriot interceptors and destroyed at least one Al Samoud
missile. Nobody was hurt in the Iraqi missile attack.
Officials said 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired against two targets in
southern Iraq and later on the outskirts of Baghdad.
One of the targets was said to have been the bunker where Saddam has
taken refuge. In all, four waves of attacks were reported. Three of them
were in southern Iraq and the fourth was on the outskirts of Baghdad.
The opening U.S. strike included missions by B-52 heavy bombers, F-117
stealth fighters and cruise missile attacks. The United States began the war
slightly before the deadline set by Bush for the exile by Saddam and his
"Coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military
importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to wage war," Bush said in
a televised address on late Wednesday. "These are the opening stages of what
will be a broad and concerted campaign."
The Iraqi attacks prompted Kuwaiti authorities to sound civil defense
sirens in Kuwait City to warn of a possible biological or chemical weapons
attack. Kuwaiti authorities called on residents to wear their gas masks, and
minutes later the capital was rocked by an explosion from a reported Iraqi
U.S. officials said a massive attack on Iraq is expected to begin later
on Thursday or early Friday. They said the attack would comprise strikes on
Iraqi targets from air, land and sea.
On Thursday, Iraqi state radio and television broadcasts were disrupted
as they issued appeals to the military to fight for Saddam. Later, Saddam
appeared on radio and television and in a brief address urged Iraqis to
defend his regime.
U.S. intelligence analysts said Saddam's choice of words suggested an
order for the use of nonconventional weapons. The analysts said the Saddam
appearance was taped before the broadcast.
"Unsheathe your sword," Saddam said. "Nobody will be victorious unless
he is a brave man."
The United States informed Israel in advance of the allied attack on
late Wednesday, Israeli officials said. They said Secretary of State Colin
Powell telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon 90 minutes before the
strike. The officials said Sharon had been told by the White House of the
exact date of the war on Sunday.
Iraq began destroying its oil facilities in the south, opposition
sources said. At the same time, the London-based Sky News reported that two
Iraqi divisions were preparing to surrender to the U.S. military. The news
channel did not say
where the divisions were located.
U.S. defense sources also reported the advance of U.S. and British
special operations forces in both northern and southern Iraq. They said
special forces attacked Iraqi targets in the port city of Basra, located
near southern Iraqi oil fields.