Ground Forces Reportedly Enter Iraq
Large explosions were reported “toward” the Southern Iraqi city of Basra. One report said forward U.S. ground troops cheered as artillery shells and rockets flew overhead toward Iraqi positions.
The U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division reportedly executed the artillery attack shortly before Marine Expeditionary units crossed the border en route to a “primary target,” perhaps the city of Basra.
Some military officials have said previously that artillery attacks would precede any major ground invasion. Reporters on the ground said Iraqi soldiers had not returned fire.
The United States began military action just before dawn, Baghdad time, Thursday by launching a cruise missile and bomb attack against what officials described as a meeting of high Iraqi military leadership. U.S. military officials said Thursday they were still assessing the success of the attack.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld promised that more attacks of increased intensity would follow the initial action.
“What will follow will not be a repeat of any other conflict. It will be of a force and scope and scale that has been beyond what has been seen before,” Rumsfeld said in a Pentagon briefing Thursday.
Iraq has launched as many as 12 Scud missiles on troop positions in Kuwait, where U.S. forces are staging for a ground assault. At least two of the missiles were reportedly intercepted and destroyed by defensive U.S. Patriot missiles fired from positions on the ground in Kuwait. None of the Iraqi missiles caused any injuries or major damage.
U.S. troops briefly donned gas masks and protective suits, but U.S. officials say none of the missiles appears to have contained chemical or biological agents.