March 22 —
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
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
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
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
|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)|
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