Key developments concerning Iraq
Wednesday, March 19th 2003, 12:00 am
News On 6
Latest developments in the Iraq crisis:
The U.S. military struck with cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs against a site near Baghdad where Iraqi leaders were thought to be. President Bush described the action as the opening salvo in an campaign to "disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger."
- Columns of U.S. tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and fuel trucks fought sandstorms as they snaked through the Kuwaiti desert toward the Iraqi border. About 300,000 U.S. troops were within striking distance of Iraq, backed by more than 1,000 warplanes.
- The U.S. government's 8 p.m. EST deadline for Saddam Hussein to resign passed. Before the deadline, Iraq's parliament reaffirmed support for Saddam, while armed members of his Baath Party fanned out across Baghdad in a show of force.
- The White House sent Congress a formal notification of justification for war. Spokesman Ari Fleischer said war against Iraq will be as short as possible but advised Americans to be prepared for loss of life.
- A senior Air Force planner said U.S. air power has grown so dramatically since the first Gulf War that the Iraqi military has no idea how fierce the opening attacks will be.
- Hours before the deadline, as many as 17 Iraqi soldiers surrendered at the Kuwaiti border.
- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak blamed Iraq for the impending war but also warned invading forces of the "dangerous
repercussions" the fighting could have in the Middle East.
- Bahrain's king, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, offered Saddam
- The United States and Britain are drafting a plan to use Iraqi oil proceeds in a $40 billion U.N.-controlled account to pay for humanitarian relief during a war. The plan would effectively halt any lucrative business deals that French, Russian or other companies have with Iraq through the United Nations' oil-for-food program.
- Also at the United Nations, Secretary-General Kofi Annan implored the United States and its allies to not forsake humanitarian aid while waging war. The war's leading opponents, France, Germany and Russia, told the Security Council there was no proof Saddam poses a threat.