Third day: 500 cruise missiles on Iraqi targets; Iraq says it blocked coalition troops near Nassiriya
American ships and warplanes have launched 500 cruise missiles and several hundred precision weapons on Iraq over the past day, the Pentagon said Saturday.
American forces have progressed 240 kms into Iraq, halfway to Baghdad, said Brig. Gen. Stanley McChrystal of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Warplanes flew 1,000 missions from aircraft carriers and air bases in the region, he said at a Pentagon news conference.
U.S. forces also have successfully crossed the Euphrates River, the major waterway en route to the capital, McChrystal said.
Iraqi soldiers, "including some leadership," are surrendering and defecting in large numbers, Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke said. "It is only a matter of time before the Iraqi regime is destroyed and its threat to the region ... is ended," she said.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi military said it has shot down 21 cruise missiles as it defends the country against an air assault by US and British forces.
"The enemy has continued firing missiles against our civilian and military establishments and our brave defences were able to shoot down 21 cruise missiles," a military spokesman said.
The Iraqi spokesman said that Iraqi armoured forces and Baath party militias had also blocked US and British troops from advancing near the southern Iraqi town of Nassiriya, and had forced US soldiers to retreat from positions near the Faw peninsula. (Albawaba.com)