||An American B-52 bomber taking off
from an RAF airfield in Britain on Friday
||U.S. troops tending to an Iraq
captured during fighting in southern Iraq on
U.S. and British forces unleashed
a massive air assault on Baghdad on Friday as invasion forces
advanced swiftly toward the city, where President Saddam Hussein's
supporters dug in for a last stand.
Huge plumes of smoke
rose from Baghdad as bombs and missiles slammed into one of Saddam's
palaces and other targets. Repeated explosions reddened the night
sky and shook the ground in by far the biggest raid of the war.
A Reuters journalist saw fires raging in Saddam's palace and
A U.S. official said it was the start of a
major air war, dubbed by the Pentagon as "shock and awe." A fleet of
B-52 bombers had earlier been seen taking off from an airfield in
Iraq said Saddam had survived a U.S.
attempt to target him directly on Thursday. But rumors persisted
that the Iraqi leader was dead. British and U.S. officials said they
did not know whether he was alive or dead.
explosions were also heard around the city of Kirkuk in the north
and anti-aircraft guns blasted the skies over Mosul.
and British leaders said the campaign to oust Saddam was going
according to plan but warned that the real battle still lay ahead.
Saddam has withdrawn his best trained and most loyal forces
to Baghdad, where he may be planning to force invaders into
dangerous and punishing street fighting in hopes of inflicting heavy
"The important thing is to get to Baghdad to
prevent Saddam's ability to effect any form of command, particularly
over weapons of mass destruction," Major General Albert Whitely,
deputy commander of the U.S.-British land forces, told Reuters in an
Marines seize Iraqi port of Umm Qasr
In a day of swift developments, U.S. Marines captured the Iraqi
port of Umm Qasr while other troops seized two airfields in the
Iraqi desert 140 and 180 miles (225 km and 290 km) west of the
capital, part of a move to encircle Baghdad.
launched an amphibious and aerial assault and secured key oil
installations at the head of the Gulf. Other British troops headed
for the port of Basra.
There were unconfirmed reports that
U.S. special forces had secured the giant oilfields around Kirkuk in
One U.S. armored unit ran into Iraqi
resistance that halted it temporarily near Nassiriya on the
Euphrates river while it called for backup. The town is a main
strategic crossing point over the Euphrates 235 miles )375 km(
southeast of Baghdad.
The startling speed of a U.S. advance
from Kuwait deep into the Iraqi desert had prompted some British and
American officers to predict a swift victory.
progress," President George W. Bush told lawmakers in the Oval
Office. "We will stay on task until we've achieved our objective,
which is to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and free the
But British Prime Minister Tony Blair said
the war would not be won overnight and White House spokesman Ari
Fleischer said the conflict could still be "lengthy and dangerous."
CNN: Second U.S Marine killed in Iraq
U.S marine has been killed in Iraq, CNN reported on Friday.
The Marine died at about 4 p.m. local time (1100 GMT), the
On Thursday, in the first day of fighting, one
U.S. Marine was killed in action. Eight British and four U.S.
soldiers died in a helicopter crash in Kuwait.
met unexpected resistance when they attacked a key southern Iraqi
port earlier on Friday.
Iraqi ministers have vowed to
"incinerate" the invaders and asserted that President Saddam Saddam
had survived an early missile strike on a leadership bunker.
U.S. forces seize airfields in western Iraq
American forces seized important airfields in western Iraq, the
only part of the country from which Iraqi missiles are capable of
The airfields known as H-2 and H-3 in far
western Iraq were taken without much resistance from Iraqi troops,
defense officials said on condition of anonymity. But they called
control of the installations "tentative."
They are important
partly because Saddam Hussein is believed to have Scud missiles
(Click here for analysis by Ze'ev
American and British forces
continued to advance Friday through southern Iraq, some racing
unimpeded across the desert, others meeting hostile fire. Hundreds
of Iraqi soldiers surrendered.
Iraqis halt U.S. advance
Resistance from Iraqi troops halted U.S.
forces advancing through southern Iraq on Friday near Nassiriya, a
main crossing point over the Euphrates river.
correspondent Andrew Gray, travelling with elements of the U.S. 3rd
Infantry Division, said officers told him there was fighting near
the city and they expected soon "to go and join the battle".
Gray said he saw U.S. troops return fire with two rockets.
Nassiriya is a main crossing point over the Euphrates some
375 km (235 miles) southeast of the capital Baghdad.
Major General Albert Whitely, deputy commander of the U.S.-British
land forces, told Reuters on Friday that crossing the Euphrates was
the next big challenge for allied troops in their drive towards the
Other elements of the U.S. 3rd Infantry
Division had earlier advanced at least 150 km (90 miles) into Iraq
from Kuwait, speeding north towards Baghdad, spearheading a land war
aimed at ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and disarming Iraq
of its alleged weapons of mass destruction.
killed in action
A U.S. marine has been killed in action, in
what could the first combat death among the forces invading Iraq,
CNN television said on Friday. "One U.S. marine has been killed in
the line of fire," the CNN announcer said, adding there were no
details. The report could not immediately be confirmed.
allies suffered their first losses when a Marine helicopter crashed
and burned in Kuwait, killing eight British soldiers and four
Marines. Allied officials were trying to determined the cause of the
deadly helicopter crash in northern Kuwait but said it was an
accident. The CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter was assigned to the 1st
Marine Expeditionary Force.
Source: British have Basra in
sights Friday night
British troops aim to seize control of
the southern Iraqi city of Basra during Friday night, a UK military
"One of the key aims tonight is to get hold of
Basra," the source told Reuters.
He added that UK troops
were preparing to take humanitarian aid into Iraq within 48 hours.
"The idea is to sweep through a place then support it."
B-52 bombers which took off from an air base in England on Friday
morning were due to hit Iraq within an hour as part of a "big
blast", he added.
regime might capitulate, U.S. military commanders held back-channel
negotiations with Iraqi commanders and refrained from all-out
bombardment. Instead, U.S. missiles and bombs struck specific
targets - including the main presidential palace in Baghdad and
strongholds of the Iraqi army's elite Special Republican Guard.
The spokesman for British forces in the Persian Gulf said
coalition troops might enter Baghdad within the next "three or four
Group Captain Al Lockwood, speaking to reporters at
the main allied command center in Qatar, said the U.S.-led attack
could enter the Iraqi capital swiftly.
"If I was a betting
man, and I'm not, I would say hopefully within the next three or
four days," the British news agency Press Association quoted
Lockwood as saying.
U.S. officials said Iraqi forces
appeared cut off from their leadership after the initial missile
attack on a Baghdad compound. It was struck because of intelligence
reports that Saddam Hussein was inside.
The officials said
there was no definitive word on whether Saddam was caught in the
attack, but they indicated that medical workers were summoned to the
compound after it was hit.
Iraqi Information Minister
Mohammed Sa'eed al-Sahhaf acknowledged Friday that one of Saddam
Hussein's homes was hit in Thursday's bombing, though he said no one
"They rocketed the residence of his household," he
said of Saddam. "But thank God they are all safe," he told reporters
in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.
Kuwait says new Iraqi
missile shot down in northwest
A Kuwait defense official
said coalition Patriot missiles had shot down an Iraqi Scud missile
in northwestern Kuwait on Friday.
Air raid sirens sounded in
Kuwait City at around 1005 GMT, but the all-clear was sounded
"It was a Scud but Patriots hit the
Scud," a defense ministry official said.
Iraq fired several
missiles towards Kuwait on Thursday, mostly towards U.S. and British
rear positions in the north, a British military spokesman said
earlier on Friday.
Originally reported as being Scud
missiles, Israel defense officials estimated that the missiles were
in fact Frog missiles, which have a much shorter range and, unlike
the Scud, are not proscribed weapons.
In the war zone, one
convoy from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force was targeted by Iraqi
rockets and small-arms fire just after it crossed over the border
from Kuwait, according to a BBC reporter with the unit. Another
Marine unit, the 7th Infantry's 3rd Battalion, had to delay its
foray into Iraq after it was reported that numerous tanks were
sighted unexpectedly on the Iraqi side of the border.
unit took small-arms and artillery fire Thursday night, and at one
point a U.S. Cobra helicopter accidentally fired a missile at an
American tank, injuring one soldier and forcing abandonment of the
But overall, resistance to the allies was
limited. Within a few hours of crossing into southern Iraq, the 15th
Marine Expeditionary Unit encountered 200 or more Iraqi troops
seeking to surrender.
One group of 40 Iraqis marched down a
two-lane road toward the Americans and gave up. They were told to
lie face down on the ground, then were searched by Marines.
Soldiers from the Army's 3rd Infantry Division also crossed
into Iraq and encountered several Iraqi armored personnel carriers,
destroying at least three, troops reported by radio. British troops
moved on the strategic al-Faw peninsula - Iraq's access point to the
Persian Gulf and the site of major oil facilities.
Marines seized a portion of the main road leading from Kuwait into
the southern Iraqi city of Basra, suppressing earlier resistance
from Iraqi mortars and arms.
Supported by Cobra attack
helicopters and howitzers, Marine tanks and armored vehicles rolled
down Route 80 through the demilitarized zone between Kuwait and
Still waiting back in Kuwait was the 3rd Brigade of
the 101st Airborne Division.
U.S. said operating in west
Iraq to thwart Scud attacks on Israel
A large U.S. force is
operating in western Iraq in a bid to prevent any Iraqi Scud missile
attacks against Israel, Channel One television reported Thursday