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Middle East - AP
Iraq Launches Attack Against U.S. Troops
24 minutes ago

By KIMBERLY HEFLING, Associated Press Writer

CAMP NEW JERSEY, Kuwait - U.S. troops got their first real scare Thursday when Iraqi missiles streaked across the border into Kuwait, forcing the Americans to climb into protective suits and put on gas masks.

Photo
AP Photo

 

The American military said it used Patriot missiles to shoot down at least one Iraq (news - web sites) missile. In the Kuwaiti desert, an Iraqi missile flew overhead and landed harmlessly in the desert.

No injuries were reported, and there was no immediate evidence the missiles had chemical or biological warheads. It was not clear whether the Iraqi missiles were Scuds or Al Samoud 2s.

The Iraqi attack came several hours after the United States launched precision-guided bombs and more than 40 Tomahawk missiles in strikes it said were aimed at Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) and his top leadership.

U.S. Army troops at Camp New Jersey in the Kuwaiti desert put on their chemical and biological protective gear in response to an alert caused by one of the missiles, but were given the all-clear a few minutes later.

At another, undisclosed position in the desert along the Iraqi border, the men of A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment were eating lunch when the Iraqi missile hit the desert. The locomotive-like roar of the missile flying through the air followed the sound of impact because of the distances involved.

Within a minute, a flash message came across the radio, reporting that a tactical ballistic missile had landed in the desert, near U.S. troops. A few minutes later, all troops were ordered to don their gas masks and their protective clothing for chemical and biological warfare.

The men moved swiftly but calmly, systematically putting on their masks, then the clothing. Once one soldier was done, he would go over and make sure another soldier had his gear on properly.

Then they waited in the desert heat for further orders.

About 20 minutes later, the radio crackled, "All clear."

"Damn, I had just put a pinch of chew in when the order came down" to put on gas masks, said Spc. Dean Bryant of Oklahoma City, lamenting the loss of valuable chewing tobacco. "I wasn't quite expecting that. It makes me a little frustrated."

After removing his mask, company commander Capt. Chris Carter of Watkinsville, Ga., said: "Saddam is a fool."

"I think its an obvious attempt by Saddam Hussein to demoralize the army and the American public," Carter said. "An attempt that has been a miserable failure. He's probably got the guys more ready to fight than ever."

After weeks on standby in the Kuwaiti desert, U.S. troops appeared to welcome news that war was under way and said they were eager for orders to cross into Iraq.

"It's a relief we can finally go," said Spc. Robert McDougal, 21, of Paris, Texas, as the 101st Airborne broke camp Thursday. "Standing by is the hardest thing to do. It is time to put our training to the test."

Scores of vehicles, including bulldozers, Humvees and trucks full of equipment and supplies, lined up in Camp New Jersey, ready to move out. A dust storm that buffeted the troops on Wednesday had eased, giving way to a relatively cool morning in the low 80s with a few clouds.

Soldiers were up at dawn, cleaning tents and stuffing items into duffel bags. Some tried to slip out to the dining facility for one last hot meal before leaving.

 

Sgt. Brian McGough, 27, Philadelphia, sat by his automatic grenade launcher as he loaded rucksacks into storage containers.

"No one ever prays for war, but if it comes to that we are trained to do it," he said. "We all have high morale. We'll do fine. But there is always the unknown factor. You just have to be flexible and react to what happens."

Elsewhere in Kuwait, members of the 709th Military Police Battalion learned about the strikes on Baghdad from a reporter.

"Good. At least we know what we will be doing in the next three days," said Lt. Col. Richard Vanderlinden, the battalion commander. He said his MPs would follow on the heels of advancing U.S. forces, dealing with prisoners of war and displaced Iraqi civilians.

Some Iraqi soldiers have surrendered already. An officer with the 3rd infantry Division, briefing reporters on condition on anonymity, said entire Iraqi divisions are expected to surrender swiftly.

Aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk in the Persian Gulf, ordnance crews in protective headgear and red life vests wheeled 500-, 1,000- and 2,000-pound bombs along the flight deck Thursday and fitted them under the wings of F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18 Hornets. The bombs, equipped with laser guidance systems, were marked with yellow stripes on their nose to indicate they were live munitions.

Military officials said the Tomahawk missiles fired at Baghdad in the opening salvo were launched from warships in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf the destroyers USS Milius and USS Donald Cook; the cruisers USS Bunker Hill and USS Cowpens; and the attack submarines USS Montpelier and USS Cheyenne.


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Prev. Story: Saddam Urges Iraq to Resist U.S. Military  (AP)
Next Story: U.S. Targets Saddam; Iraq Fires at Troops  (AP)

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US, Britain target Saddam in early strikes  (AFP)
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