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 Friday, March 21, 2003


Civilian Casualty Update

Bush defied all predictions of sustained blitz bombing yesterday with a short, sharp strategic strike on Saddam Hussein and his leadership. About 90 minutes after the deadline passed, about 40 cruise missiles and, according to unconfirmed reports, four "bunker buster" bombs, hit an unidentified target in Baghdad. The air strikes prompted an Iraqi counter-attack later yesterday, with confirmation that at least two missiles had been fired across the border into northern Kuwait

About 70,000 Turkish troops were massing on the country's border with Iraq, after the Turkish Government in effect ended Washington's hopes of establishing a second US military front to attack Baghdad and the key city of Tikrit from the north.News of the troop build-up came as the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, confirmed that US forces would not be allowed to use air bases for strikes against Iraq, thus forfeiting a US offer of up to $US30billion ($50 billion) in grants and loans.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has come out strongly against the U.S.-led coalition attacks on Iraq saying it brings into question the role of international law.

The governments of Japan and South Korea to support the U.S. attack on Iraq despite public opposition, leaders in those two countries said today.Both countries, key Asian allies, had officially wavered on whether their governments would support an attack not sanctioned by the United Nations.

AUSTRALIA (1) For the 10th time in our history, in foreign skies, on foreign soil and on a foreign sea, young Australians joined in an international conflict.But for the first time in our history, they go to the battle on behalf of a divided nation. They are the first to go to a war for a cause most of their fellow citizens do not agree with and do not believe they should be fighting for. Kim Beazley, as staunch a believer in the American alliance as any one of his opponents in the Howard Government, captured the feelings of the nation about our forces' participation in the US invasion of Iraq when he said: "May the Lord hold them in his hands until this is over and bring them safely home. This is where our hearts lie, and our hearts lie too with the Iraqi civilians who will be killed over the next few days ... But our heads lead us to conclude that this is a profound mistake.":

(2) Peak-hour traffic came to a standstill last night as more than 15,000 protesters gathered at the Town Hall within hours of the first bombs being dropped on Baghdad. Rows of mounted police closed Castlereagh Street in front of the United States consulate as thousands filed past booing disapproval.About 20,000 people marched through Melbourne, led by actors Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts and Joel Edgerton. Another 5000 gathered in Brisbane's King George Square as Brisbane Lord Mayor Jim Soorley told the crowd the Prime Minister, John Howard, should be condemned as a hypocrite.In Canberra, 1500 gathered outside the US embassy. At least 20 Doctors Against War challenged Mr Howard to spend one day working in an Iraqi hospital "with no anaesthetic, no morphine, no clean fluids or blood transfusions".

CHINA A Foreign Ministry spokesman said it was a violation of the UN Charter and international principles."They ignored the opposition of most countries and peoples of the world and went around the UN Security Council to begin military action against Iraq," the spokesman said, without naming the US.

GERMANY. 50,000 school students marched from Berlin's central Alexanderplatz past the guarded U.S. embassy and through the Brandenburg Gate.The crowd whistled and chanted and carried banners saying "Stop the Bush fire," "George W. Hitler," "No blood for oil."

GREECE. The center of Athens was turned into a huge protest arena. Nearly 10,000 people including many schoolchildren gathered to march to the U.S. embassy.

BRITAIN. More than 100 students gathered at University College London since 8am to begin its protest. Staff and students observed a minute's silence at 12pm before staging teach-ins across the campus. Staff and students at Birmingham University gathered at the university's main library at 12pm. We demonstrated outside the university library, had an air raid siren going off and held a die-in, and did a banner drop from the 100-metre high clock tower." Students and staff at Southampton University staged a two-hour walk out at 12pm. Staff at the university have planned a weekly protest against the war during which they have asked for the deduction of an hour's wage to be sent to the charity Asylum Aid. The Cambridge Students Against the War group led a protest of students, schoolchildren and local people through the town to a war memorial where wreaths were laid. This afternoon, 400 people staged a street sit-in, blocking traffic on one of the main routes into Cambridge. Students and staff at Essex University have planned a walkout/teach-in event for tomorrow, which will coincide with the university's planned walkout over tuition fees.The National Union of Students had organised a campus-wide walkout over tuition fees tomorrow, but it was looking increasingly likely that students will chose to voice dissent about the more imminent threat of war.

SPAIN: Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar called a meeting of key ministers, where he defended his country's decision to back Washington. Aznar, who spoke to Bush and the British leader hours before Thursday's attack, has made two of its airbases available to the United States, but its own troops will not be involved.

ITALY: Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has also voiced support for Washington, said he hoped for a swift war. He added that his government had "activated all the necessary precautions to hinder the possibility of terrorist attacks to so called sensitive targets on our territory."

PHILIPPINES: President Gloria Arroyo:The war has just begun. The Philippines is part of the coalition of the willing. We are giving political and moral support for actions to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. This is a part of a long-standing security alliance. This is part of a global coalition against terrorism and this is vital to our national security.

SOUTH AFRICA. South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma:This indeed is a very serious undermining of the world. We had organisations like the League of Nations, and the United Nations which in a sense were supposed to guarantee the fact that there would be no single country that will attack another country.



The United States has launched one of its biggest military assaults on Afghanistan since Operation Anaconda a year ago Up to 1,000 troops and attack helicopters converged on villages in southern Afghanistan The operation, code-named "Valiant Strike", began with an air and ground assault in the remote mountains of southern Kandahar province

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