Ground forces enter Iraq

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 22, 2003

On Thursday in the cover of night and after weeks of waiting, allied forces crossed the Kuwait border into southern Iraq, signaling the start of the ground war. Sending artillery and rockets before them, 20,000 Marines in the 1st Marine Division encountered weak resistance on their way north. They were attacked from &uot;rear guard&uot; units and destroyed an Iraqi T-55 tank–no Americans were injured.

Sand and smoke from oil well fires made the air thick and visibility difficult. Burning oil fields has been a concern since the discussion of military strategy, leaders having learned their lesson during the Gulf War when Iraqi troops set fire to oil fields in Kuwait.

Though facts are sketchy, it is believed that at least three or four oil wells were set on fire. It is not clear how they started or who started them.

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The U.S. 3rd Infantry Division’s artillery fired more than 100 artillery shells toward southern Iraq in five minutes. Fire was not returned.

The British also moved their troops. According to The Times in London, British Marines crossed the Khawr Abd Allah, a river estuary in between Kuwait and Iraq.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces launched a second round of precision strikes over Baghdad, destroying the ministry of planning, the main presidential palace and Special Republican Guard strongholds.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield said military actions were &uot;going very well&uot; and they would continue with their plans.

Still, even with precision strikes and the movement of troops, the war Rumsfield promised would have a &uot;force and scope and scale that has been beyond what has been seen before&uot; has yet to show its face.

On Friday night, the U.S. began the "shock and awe" inspiring air campaign against the Iraq capital, Baghdad.

Over 320 Tomahawk missile were launched at sites in and around the city, followed by even more bombing. The attack coincided with attacks on the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk in southern Iraq.

As U.S. troops advance, Rumsfield said he expects them to reach Baghdad in a few days.