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March 20, 2003
 
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(Reuters Photo)
US Marines Enter Iraq; Baghdad Bombed Again

Reuters


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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 power.

"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 border.

"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."


photo credit and caption:
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 (Handout)

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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