THE WAR HAS BEGUN
Civilian Casualty Update
British and American troops were involved in fierce fighting near Iraq's main port today as the war to topple Saddam Hussein began. The firefight broke out near Basra as men of the Special Boat Service targeted the strategically vital city and the oilfields in southern Iraq. At the same time allied troops were flooding into the demilitarised zone on the Iraqi border with Kuwait 40 miles away to take up positions for an all-out invasion. The fighting reported at Basra was believed to involve British special forces and US marines in an operation to prepare landing sites for amphibious craft during an invasion. Basra, Iraq's only seaport, lies on the Shatt al Arab waterway where the Tigris and the Euphrates open into the northern Gulf.
The Central Command said long range artillery were struck at Az Zubayr and in the Al Faw peninsula, and a surface-to surface missile system near Basra. Warplanes also bombed a traffic control radar near Basra and communications sites near Ash Shuaybah, Mydaysis and Ruwayshid in southern Iraq.
Seventeen Iraqi soldiers have given themselves up to U.S.-led forces in northern Kuwait, U.S. military sources said Wednesday.
The White House has publicly warned the Turkish Government not to let its troops enter Iraq, amid growing concerns that Turkey may try to confront pro-US Kurdish rebels in the opening stages of the Iraqi war.
Full text: UN security council resolution 1441 on Iraq
Thursday, March 20, 2003