Anti-aircraft fire and explosions were heard across Baghdad after air raid sirens went off at 0535 Thursday in the capital. The deadline came at 0400 Thursday in Baghdad.
CNN reported that the U.S. had carried out a cruise missile strike in the southern part of the Iraqi capital, which American security sources called "target of opporunity" aimed at members of the Iraqi leadership, but was not the main offensive expected to be launched by the U.S.-led forces.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that the opening stages of disarming Iraq had begun and that President George W. Bush would address the nation shortly. Minutes later, Bush described the action as the opening salvo in an operation to "disarm Iraq and to free its people."
Just after the deadline, White House chief of staff Andrew Card informed the president that intelligence officials had no information that Saddam had left Iraq.
In the minutes after the deadline, Iraqi TV showed footage of a pro-Saddam march Tuesday in Baghdad, with members of the crowd chanting pro-Saddam slogans, some brandishing rifles and carrying pictures of Saddam.