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March 22, 2003
 
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(AP Photo)
Key Developments Concerning Iraq
Key Developments Concerning Iraq

The Associated Press


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Coalition forces pounded Baghdad with impunity in the first daylight air raids of the war. American forces have progressed 150 miles into Iraq, halfway to Baghdad, and American ships and warplanes have launched 500 cruise missiles and several hundred precision weapons on Iraq over the past day, the Pentagon said Saturday.

U.S. and British forces tightened the noose around Iraq's second-largest city, Basra, taking its airport and a bridge. Saddam Hussein's security forces resisted with artillery and heavy machine guns. Military leaders intend not to storm and destroy the city but to force Iraqis to surrender and avoid a bloody urban conflict.

Gen. Tommy Franks, running the war from Qatar, promised the campaign would be "unlike any other in history." In his first comments since the war started, Franks acknowledged resistance from Iraqi forces, and said he had "no idea" where Saddam was or if he was alive.

State-run Iraqi television reported that Saddam held two meetings Saturday with senior government members and Qusai Hussein, who had been regarded as his father's likely successor.

The Turkish military denied reports that 1,000 Turkish commandos had crossed into northern Iraq. A military official said earlier that soldiers had rolled into northeastern Iraq near where the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Iran converge to reinforce Turkish troops already in Iraq.

West of Baghdad, along the Euphrates River, another of Saddam's palaces was destroyed in a strike by warplanes from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, according to a commander aboard the carrier in the Mediterranean.

In far-north Iraq, U.S. forces fired Tomahawk cruise missiles at suspected positions of the Ansar al Islam guerrillas, which the United States accuses of ties to al-Qaida terrorists.

An apparent car bomb killed at least five people, including an Australian cameraman, at a road checkpoint in northeastern Iraq near a camp of the al-Qaida-linked militant group Ansar al-Islam. At least eight people were injured.

Coinciding with the bombardment of Baghdad, air strikes hammered targets around the country, including Mosul and Kirkuk in the north and Basra and Nassiriyah in the south.

Two British Navy helicopters collided over the Persian Gulf, and seven on board were killed, including a U.S. Navy officer. The accident did not result from enemy fire, British officials said. A day earlier, eight British and four U.S. Marines died when their helicopter crashed south of Umm Qasr.

Two U.S. Marines died in combat in southern Iraq. One was battling Iraqi infantry to secure an oil pumping station. The second was fighting near the strategic port of Umm Qasr.

Anti-war demonstrators held rallies in cities including New York, Chicago, Washington and San Francisco.

A CBS-New York Times tracking poll suggested that almost two-thirds, 62 percent, say the war will be quick and successful, and 33 percent thought it would take a long time and be costly. In early March, only four in 10 said they thought the war would be quick.


photo credit and caption:
Lynx helicopters of the 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, serving with the British Army's 16 Air Assault Brigade, come to the forwards arming and refueling point on the Iraq border Saturday, March 22, 2003. (AP Photo/Ian Jones, Pool)

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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