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The aggression begins.

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  • thekoba@aztecfreenet.org
    ================= Begin forwarded message ================= Dear Kevin, The aggression has begun. Comradely, Eric ...
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 19, 2003
      ================= Begin forwarded message =================

      Dear Kevin,

      The aggression has begun.




      This is
      19/03/03 - War on Iraq section

      The war has started
      By Robert Fox, Defence Correspondent and David Taylor,
      Evening Standard

      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

      Cruise missiles were also loaded onto B52 bombers at
      RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, a clear sign that the
      bombardment of Baghdad could be only hours away.

      British troops taking up "forward battle positions"
      were ordered to switch off satellite phones and allied
      warplanes bombed targets in Iraq after coming under
      fire in the no-fly zone.

      By lunchtime, allied forces were in position to strike
      from the moment the 48-hour deadline set by President
      Bush for Saddam to quit Iraq expires at 1am British
      time tomorrow. But the White House had refused to rule
      out a strike before that.

      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.

      Other special units were deep inside Iraq on secret
      operations to prepare landing strips in the desert for
      airborne troops.

      Basra, Iraq's only seaport, lies on the Shatt al Arab
      waterway where the Tigris and the Euphrates open into
      the northern Gulf.

      Surrounded by treacherous sandbanks and marshes it is
      difficult to approach from the sea.

      Artillery, infantry and the tanks of the 7th Armoured
      Brigade had already moved into Forming Up Positions,
      and some were already on the start line.

      An attack could target Basra and proceed up alongside
      the Euphrates towards the strategic cities of
      Nasariya, Najaf and Karbala.

      Tony Blair said he believed all MPs, irrespective of
      their views on the war, now wished British troops

      "I know everyone in this House wishes our Armed Forces
      well," he said in the Commons.

      A sandstorm whipped across northern Kuwait as the pace
      of preparations suddenly quickened Kuwaiti security
      sources disclosed that allied troops move into the
      demilitarised zone, which straddles the Iraq-Kuwait
      border, at around 11am local time, 8am UK time.

      The source, working in the Umm Qasr area in the east
      of the zone, said: "American convoys are still driving
      towards Umm Qasr."

      A US military spokesman said he could not confirm or
      deny that troops were inside the zone.

      A British Army spokesman said only that soldiers had
      taken up " forward battle positions".

      At Fairford, 14 giant American B52 bombers which will
      lead the fight against Saddam were loaded up with
      cruise missiles this morning.

      The first flight of B52s were expected to take off two
      hours before sunset to give them enough flying time to
      identify their targets and drop their first
      devastating payload before heading for home.

      The missiles were driven to the aircraft in five
      articulated lorries escorted by police at 10.30am.

      Troops meticulously loaded the weapons - each costing
      around ��1million - into the bomb bays by forklift

      With an estimated flight time of only six hours to
      Iraq the bombers are expected to play a huge part in
      the initial air bombardment. A single B52 can deliver
      a payload of more than 70,000lb at a range of 8,800
      miles without being refuelled. They are likely to take
      up positions over the Mediterranean or the Red Sea to
      unleash cruise missiles or satelliteguided smart
      bombs. RAF Tornados, Harriers and Jaguars are also
      likely to be involved in the opening 48-hour

      The Tornados will be given the specific task of taking
      out air defences and barracks round small missile
      batteries and air strips in the Iraqi desert.

      This will enable the enemy positions to be quickly
      seized by airborne forces and turned into bases for
      the advancing allied armies.

      The Harrier force of up to 20 planes has the job of
      supporting special forces, the SAS and Special Boat
      Service and American Rangers in the hunt for Scud
      missile sites and any artillery shells with chemical
      warheads. Intelligence suggests Saddam has given his
      generals personal authority to unleash the deadly
      weapons as a last desperate measure to hold the Allies
      off from attacking Baghdad.

      The mainstay of the bombing attack will be the 750
      American and British fighter bombers from Gulf bases
      and the six American aircraft carriers now at battle
      stations in the Mediterranean and the Arabian Sea.

      The aircraft, including RAF Tornados and Harriers,
      F16s, F15s and F18 Hornets will work on a "taxi rank"
      basis, forming ranks in the air before being sent in
      on targets. Along with the B52s from Fairford, other
      longrange bombers include the almost mythical B2
      Spirit bat-wing supersonic aircraft which will fly
      from bases on Diego Garcia. Also spearheading the
      attack will be B1B Lancer and F117 Stealth bombers.

      Action began in the air today as warplanes from the
      USS Abraham Lincoln bombed Iraqi positions after
      coalition aircraft - including two RAF Harrier jets -
      were fired on by Iraqi forces.

      "There were, yesterday, four firings against our
      aircraft flying in the southern no-fly zone," Rear
      Admiral John Kelly told reporters on board the
      Lincoln. He said US forces had responded by bombing "a
      series of targets" he described as "command and
      control" positions.
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