Massive night strikes on Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk; Saddam palace hit
U.S. and British forces unleashed a massive air assault on Baghdad on Friday night. Large explosions rocked Iraq's capital. Huge plumes of smoke rose from Baghdad as bombs and missiles slammed into one of Saddam Hussein's palaces and other targets. Repeated explosions reddened the night sky and shook the ground in by far the biggest raid of the war.
The first explosion was felt at about 8:10 p.m. in Baghdad. Air raid sirens sounded again in Baghdad early on Saturday. Additionally, air raid sirens were reported in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Several big explosions were also heard around the city of Kirkuk in the north.
Pentagon officials told CNN that Friday is "A-day," the day a promised campaign of "shock and awe" is to hit Iraq. Hundreds of bombing runs were planned to target sites in Iraq, other officials said.
The U.S. Navy launched some 320 Tomahawk cruise missiles from ships in the Gulf and the Red Sea in the massive air assault, senior officers said Friday.
A fleet of B-52 bombers had earlier been seen taking off from an airfield in southern England.
Speaking at a press briefing after Friday's first round of air strikes, General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that several hundred military targets to be hit "in the coming hours."
One U.S. official said the assault was ordered after U.S. forces met some resistance earlier in the day, raising concerns that the Iraqi high command was regaining control. In the first hours of the war, administration officials had detected evidence that the Iraqi leadership was in disarray, AP reported. (Albawaba.com)
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