— WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Units of the U.S Marine 1st
Expeditionary Force on Thursday crossed from Kuwait into southern
Iraq to secure positions for a thrust northward by massed U.S. and
British troops, U.S. officials said.
But the officials, who asked not to be identified, cautioned that
the troop move and a fresh wave of night bombing and cruise missile
strikes on Baghdad did not represent the massive military blitzkrieg
promised by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Rumsfeld earlier said the eventual ground and air invasion of
Iraq "will be of a force and scope and scale ... beyond what has
been seen before."
"Believe me, you will know that when you see it," said one of the
officials. He contrasted such a massive undertaking with the air
strikes on Thursday night in Baghdad, precisely directed against
elite Republican Guards and other military and government targets
near the center of the capital.
Officials suggested the air attacks were part of a strategy to
soften opposition from President Saddam Hussein's most trusted and
elite forces in advance of the expected invasion to thrust him from
"I would not read that (full-scale attack) into the move" by the
Marines across the demilitarized zone between Kuwait and Iraq, said
one of the U.S. officials.
The Marine unit is part of a combined force of more than 150,000
U.S. and British troops poised in northern Kuwait near the Iraqi
"This is all part of the preparation" for a major ground attack,
said another U.S. official. "There will be things that you see and
things that you don't."
|British Royal Marines practice
contact drills arch 20, 2003 outside a British base in the
desert of Kuwait. Units of the U.S. Marine 1st Expeditionary
Force have crossed from Kuwait into southern Iraq to begin
securing positions for a thrust northward by U.S. and British
troops massed in Kuwait near the border, U.S. officials said
on Wednesday. Photo by Reuters
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