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The U.S.-led offensive in Iraq opened on March 20, with a predawn cruise missile strike against one of Saddam Hussein's suspected hideouts in Baghdad. Four weeks later, President Bush declared, "Our victory in Iraq is certain but it is not complete," voicing satisfaction with the U.S. military's success in ending Saddam's regime.
The allied campaign brought enormous success but also its share of bad news. By the third week of fighting, the Army's 3rd Infantry had led the first foray into Baghdad, and on April 9, U.S. officials declared the capital city out of Saddam's control. The first significant casualties came during fierce battle with guerrilla troops in an-Nasariyah, on March 23. Weeks later, seven American soldiers who were taken as prisoners of war during events surrounding this battle were released amid the fall of Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, the last stronghold.
On April 14, the Pentagon said that major combat in Iraq had ended.
April 14, 2003
- U.S. Marines engage in a heavy 45-minute gun battle at nightfall outside Baghdad's Palestine Hotel, where many international journalists are staying. Bullets whiz past the hotel, stopping after an armed man is taken away.
- U.S. Marines battle with the scattered defenders of Saddam Hussein in Tikrit and gain control of parts of the Iraqi leader's hometown as U.S. artillery and warplanes try to wear down any attempt at a last stand. A CentCom spokesman says Watban Ibrahim Hasan Al-Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother, was taken into coalition custody a day earlier.
- Marines work to secure the town of Samarra, where the seven American POWs were rescued. Before the troops moved in, Cobra helicopters destroyed six fully loaded but unmanned anti-aircraft guns on the city outskirts.
April 13, 2003
- U.S. troops are in Saddam's hometown, Tikrit. Central Command says it's not clear how much resistance, if any, coalition troops can expect from enemy forces.
- Seven U.S. troops who'd gone missing are back in U.S. hands. They were found near Tikrit.
- Coalition forces uncover some short-range missiles in Baghdad. One is found on its mobile launcher in a nursery; another near the University of Baghdad.
- A U.S. Special Forces soldier is shot and wounded in Mosul while on security patrol. A bullet smashed through the window of his Land Rover as he drove past a waving crowd.
- A Marine is shot and killed at a Baghdad checkpoint outside a medical facility by a man carrying a Syrian identification card.
April 12, 2003
- The U.S. says loyalist leaders want to surrender to coalition forces in Qaim, where fighting is still going on.
- A "significant-sized force" of the First Marine Expeditionary Force is moving out of Baghdad toward Tikrit.
- U.S. troops head into Mosul in the first major U.S. deployment into that city since Saddam loyalists surrendered to Kurdish fighters.
- A Marine is killed in an attack by an Iraqi gunman at a checkpoint in Baghdad.
- U.S. troops stop a bus near the Syrian border carrying 59 men with $650,000 and letters offering a reward for killing American soldiers.
April 11, 2003
- Mosul, Iraqi 's third-largest city, falls into the hands of Kurdish and coalition troops with the surrender of the entire 5th Corps of the Iraqi army. Widespread looting follows.
- U.S. Marines say they killed two children when driver of their vehicle failed to stop at a Nassiriya checkpoint.
- Coalition air strikes hit Iraqi positions on the western front, as special forces troops keep watch over the frontier to make sure members of the collapsing Iraqi government don't escape into Syria.
- U.S. defense officials say the Fourth Infantry Division in Kuwait is preparing to enter Iraq from the south.
- The U.S. fires six satellite-guided bombs at an intelligence building in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad, believing that Saddam's half brother is inside.
- Coalition aircraft strike Republican Guard positions in Tikrit, and roadblocks are erected to prevent Iraqi leaders from reaching the city to wage a last stand.
April 10, 2003
- Two Shiite Muslim clerics are hacked to death in Najaf, during a meeting meant to forge reconciliation.
- Four U.S. Marines are injured in a suicide attack at a checkpoint near the Palestine hotel.
- U.S. Marines hunting for regime leaders near the home of a senior Baath party official come under heavy fire from Iraqis, who fire small arms and rocket-propelled grenades from inside the Imam Mosque. One Marine is killed and at least 20 others are wounded.
- Kurds sweep unopposed into the oil producing city of Khaneqin.
- Kurdish fighters enter the strategic oil city of Kirkuk, apparently facing little resistance.
- Coalition troops bomb Tikrit and engage Iraqi soldiers on the ground.
- Fires allegedly set by Iraqi holdouts send smoke billowing from buildings across the city.
- U.S. planes attack Baghdad targets under Arab control.
- Gun battles are ongoing in the capital, while residents continue looting government buildings and tearing down symbols of the defunct regime.
- Coalition forces take Amarah, with Iraqi fighters largely abandoning their weapons in the face of air strikes.
April 9, 2003
- U.S. Marines help a cheering crowd of Iraqis knock down a towering statue of Saddam Hussein in the middle of a square in central Baghdad.
- U.S. commanders declare Baghdad outside of Saddam's control, despite the presence of small but persistent pockets of Republican Guard fighters. Marine and Army units sweep through the city, seizing or destroying buildings that once housed some of Saddam's most feared security forces. Jubilant crowds take to the streets, some waving white flags and others taking part in widespread looting of government buildings.
- The U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division on the western side of Baghdad reports only sporadic fighting overnight, with small groups of Iraqi fighters firing assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and some mortars at U.S. troops.
- Coalition rescue teams save two critically wounded U.S. Army special operations soldiers five miles south of Baghdad.
- Kurdish forces ring the key oil center of Kirkuk following heavy coalition air strikes on front-line Iraqi positions. Kirkuk remains under Saddam's control.
- U.S. air strikes target Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein, bristling with loyalists and crack troops.
- U.S. special operations troops and Kurdish peshmerga fighters seize a strategic hilltop called Maqloub, near Mosul. It had had been heavily defended by Iraqi forces and served as a hub for air defenses against coalition strikes as well as a munitions center.
April 8, 2003
- Kurdish peshmerga fighters working alongside U.S. forces capture the small town of Faida.
- U.S. troops and Kurds inch toward Mosul from three directions. Huge explosions are heard in the city.
- A group of U.S. armored personnel carriers is hit by rockets, according to field reports. Six American soldiers are reported missing and a large number are wounded.
- The 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines find U.S. army uniforms and chemical weapons suits, possibly from captured U.S. soldiers, at a prison in the southeast area of the city. The Marines take control of the prison but come under fire from Iraqis firing rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s; Marine snipers shoot more than a dozen of the attackers.
- U.S. Marines report they've captured a military airfield on the eastern outskirts of Baghdad.
- Marines and Army troops face bloody fighting at the edge of the capital. Two Marines are killed and two wounded when their armored troop carrier is hit by an artillery shell at a bridge spanning a canal. The Iraqis blow apart the bridge and the Marines advance into the city by foot.
- Metal drums that could possibly contain chemical weapons are found at an agricultural compound near the city of Hindiyah. Laboratory tests in the United States are needed to confirm their contents. If chemical agents that could be used in weapons are detected, the drums would be the first components of weapons of mass destruction discovered during the war.
- U.S. jets hammer Iraqi positions near Kirkuk and Khaneqin.
- British forces take control of the heart of Basra, after facing a few pockets of resistance. Royal Marine commandos seize a vacant presidential palace.
- Two journalists are killed and at least three others are injured when U.S. forces fire on the Palestine hotel, where many members of the international media are staying to cover the war. The Americans say they were responding to fire in the area of the hotel, and later agree not to fire on it again.
- A correspondent for Al-Jazeera television is killed when U.S. bombs hit the network's Baghdad office. Abu Dhabi Television's office is also bombed.
- An American A-10 "Warthog" warplane is shot down near Baghdad airport; it's believed to be the first downing of a coalition aircraft by an Iraqi surface-to-air missile. The pilot ejects safely and is recovered by coalition ground forces.
- A B-1B bomber drops four 2,000-pound, precision-guided, bunker-busting bombs onto a building in the al-Mansour neighborhood, where Saddam Hussein and other regime officials were believed to be meeting. It is not immediately clear whether any of Iraq's leadership is killed or wounded.
- U.S. troops mount an air and tank assault to repel a convoy of Iraqis attempting to reoccupy a U.S.-held presidential palace. At least 50 Iraqi fighters are killed, and two U.S. soldiers wounded.
April 7, 2003
- U.S. forces and Kurdish warriors continue inching their way toward Mosul from three directions. Huge explosions in Mosul send up flames and billowing clouds of black smoke.
- U.S. forces take control of the center of Karbala. U.S. forces stage several preliminary raids on the city, see no Iraqi troops and meet no resistance.
- Moscow says a convoy of Russian Embassy diplomats came under fire while evacuating Baghdad, headed toward Syria. Four or five people were wounded, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. Russians theorize that Americans were firing on Iraqi positions when the Russian convoy got caught in the crossfire.
- British troops take control of Basra. A British officer says the body of Ali Hassan al-Majid, dubbed "Chemical Ali" by opponents of the Iraqi regime for allegedly ordering a poison gas attack that killed thousands of Kurds, was found at his home, the target of a coalition air strike.
- U.S. warplanes strike a convoy of allied Kurdish fighters and U.S. special forces during a northern battle in one of the deadliest friendly fire attacks of the Iraqi war. At least 18 are killed and more than 45 wounded, including senior Kurdish commanders.
- Iraqi soldiers try to take back Baghdad Airport, and about 100 of them are killed in a 7-hour-long battle that they lost. There are no U.S. casualties. The first U.S. C-130 transport plane lands shortly afterward, while troops find a lavish hideaway believed to have been used by Saddam Hussein in a VIP building at the site.
- Small-arms and machine-gun fire continues from the southern section of the Old Palace compound, three miles from the New Palace, apparently part of a battle between U.S. troops and Iraqi defenders.
- U.S. tanks surround the city's Al-Rashid Hotel.
- U.S. tanks stand outside the Information Ministry building in Baghdad.
- U.S. military officials say troops have seized Saddam Hussein's New Presidential Palace on the Tigris River in a raid deep into the heart of Baghdad.
- Marines pull intelligence from a shattered Republican Guard headquarters after a night of fiery bombardments. They search a nearby suspected terrorist training camp, finding the shell of a passenger jet believed to be used for hijacking training.
- U.S. troops come under heavy fire as they push through the outskirts of the Iraqi capital on their way to the city center. Marines cross the city limits, using a bridge that was previously dynamited by Iraqis, but was later repaired by Americans.
April 6, 2003
- Marines fight street-to-street battles with Iraqi forces over control of a bridge leading into Baghdad.
- Marines search the wreckage of Iraqi military facilities after a night of fiery bombardments destroys entire buildings, apparently causing fighters loyal to Saddam Hussein to flee.
- A convoy of Russian diplomats comes under fire as it is evacuated from Baghdad, the Kremlin says. There are wounded, it says, citing the Foreign Ministry. U.S. Central Command says it is investigating.
- A U.S. warplane bombs a convoy carrying U.S. special forces and Kurdish fighters, killing several men, according to a BBC reporter with the troops. Correspondent John Simpson says he counts at least 10 bodies amid the burning vehicles.
April 5, 2003
- Two coalition aircraft strike the home of the Iraqi general known as "Chemical Ali." The U.S. military says it was not known if Gen. Ali Hassan al-Majeed had been injured or killed.
- U.S. aircraft attack Iraqi positions near the line between Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters. Saddam's fighters, who had struggled to hold a key bridge in the area, appear to be pulling further back into Iraqi-held territory.
- The Pentagon confirms that eight bodies found during rescue of American POW Jessica Lynch were members of her unit of 507th Maintenance Co., ambushed near Nasiriyah.
- A Super Cobra attack helicopter crashes, killing the two Marines on board. Enemy fire isn't believed to have been involved.
- Marines engage in close-quarters fighting with pro-Saddam volunteers from Jordan, Egypt, Sudan and elsewhere, according to Lt. Col. B.P. McCoy of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines.
- U.S. Army soldiers easily capture the headquarters of The Republican Guard's vaunted Medina division. Two tank companies and an infantry company of the 3rd Infantry Division rolled through the headquarters unopposed and quickly took over the entire base.
- The U.S. Marines First Division were massing, after hours of pushing up the Tigris River, past abandoned Iraqi positions.
- American armored combat troops enter the "heart of Baghdad," defeating Iraqi forces as they go, the U.S. Central Command says. But witnesses say they saw no evidence of an incursion, and Iraq claimed the effort to move into the capital was repulsed.
April 4, 2003
- Iraqi soldiers and militiamen dig in to their Baghdad positions. U.S. Army and Marine units trade sometimes-heavy fire with Iraqi forces on the city's perimeter.
- An Iraqi civilian car explodes near a coalition checkpoint killing three coalition soldiers, a pregnant woman and the car's driver.
- U.S. warplanes pound front lines after Iraqi troops retreat from strategic hilltop positions. Kurdish militiamen capture Bardarash and a nearby bridge leading to Mosul.
- British forces penetrate closer to the center of Basra, where Iraqi defenders have fought. Warplanes drop 500- and 1,000-pound laser-guided bombs on an Iraqi intelligence complex.
- Marines fight in close combat in Kut, where Iraqis carrying AK-47s try a suicide charge against a tank. About 80 Iraqis and two Marines die, and one Marine is wounded. Another Marine is killed when his automatic weapon fires while he is sleeping. An Army soldier investigating a destroyed tank in central Iraq is killed by friendly fire when he is mistaken for an Iraqi.
- U.S. Marines report that about 2,500 Iraqi Republican Guards have surrendered between Kut and Baghdad.
- U.S. troops find thousands of boxes of white powder, nerve agent antidote and Arabic documents on how to engage in chemical warfare at an industrial site south of Baghdad. The facility had been identified by the IAEA as a suspected chemical, biological and nuclear weapons site. U.N. inspectors visited it at least nine times, as recently as Feb. 18. U.S. intelligence officials believe the white powder is explosives, not chemical or biological weapons.
- Electricity and water remain cut in Baghdad overnight. Coalition air strikes hit air force headquarters here.
- Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division seize Saddam International Airport after a day of fighting. U. S. military promptly renames it Baghdad International Airport and begins searching the tunnels underneath it.
April 3, 2003
- At least one U.S. soldier is killed by friendly fire in the fighting. Three are wounded by Iraqi fire, and three soldiers collapse from heat exhaustion.
- U.S. attack is launched against Baghdad's international airport, U.S. officers say.
- Large sections of Baghdad lose power as loud explosions are heard on the outskirts of the city. This marks the first widespread electrical failure in the city since the U.S. bombardment began.
- Members of the U.S. 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines battled, building to building, with Iraqi fighters in Kut. Three Marines were wounded, officials said.
- U.S. Infantry were crossing the Euphrates River after fighting through a failed Iraqi attempt to hold the bridge at Musayyib. The bridge had been wired with explosives that were disarmed by U.S. engineers.
- Iraqi government forces retreat in several areas near Mosul and abandon hundreds of bunkers and command centers.
- Three unguided surface-to-surface Iraqi rockets are fired near Najaf. U.S. forces reportedly have captured a mosque in Najaf, after opting not to return fire at Iraqis shooting from inside the historic religious structure.
- U.S. officials say their ground forces are outside Saddam International Airport.
- Republican Guard units from four divisions are heading south from Baghdad to tackle the U.S. advance.
- A U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter is shot down south by Iraqi forces near Karbala. Seven soldiers are killed. Four others are wounded and rescued. An F/A-18 Hornet single-seat fighter-bomber is also missing.
- Coalition artillery shell the city of Numaniya, where Marines took a bridge over the Tigris River a day earlier.
- U.S. special forces enter Iraqi installations near Baghdad overnight, including one of Saddam Hussein's palaces. Explosions rock the city's southwest outskirts near Saddam International Airport. Air raids reportedly damage a maternity hospital and hit the trade complex.
April 2, 2003
- Lead U.S. infantry units don chemical suits after capturing a bridge just 40 miles southeast of Baghdad. They're within the 50-mile "red zone" defensive cordon around the ancient city, which officials fear could be a trigger line for Iraq's use of chemical weapons.
- Major General Stanley McChrystal says two top Iraqi Republican Guard units (the Medina and the Baghdad divisions) are "no longer credible forces" after a battering by U.S. forces.
- Soldiers in the First Battalion, Fifth Marines kill about 100 Iraqis dug into trenches and bunkers, as it battled for control of a bridge over a canal. The Marines are constructing a pontoon span across the Tigris River, which will give them a secure crossing to bring in troops and equipment for the drive to Baghdad.
- Marines rolling into Numaniyah on their way to Baghdad find evidence of a hasty retreat by Saddam Hussein's forces. In addition to abandoned Iraqi military uniforms, the troops find mortar ammunition, rifles and an artillery piece left behind in a field.
- U.S. warplanes drop 500- and 1,000-pound laser-guided bombs on an Iraqi intelligence complex in Basra in an effort to dislodge die-hard defenders keeping British forces at bay.
- Marines claim to have killed at least 80 Iraqi soldiers and taken dozens of prisoners in fighting near Diwaniyah. Troops report finding fortified Iraqi positions along a line leading several miles to the city.
- U.S. bombing of Baghdad continues with one of Saddam Hussein's palaces in central Baghdad targeted overnight.
- Coalition forces in Najaf are receiving hostile fire from Iraqi forces inside the Ali Mosque - an important religious shrine to Shia around the world. Coalition forces refused to return fire because of historic significance of building.
- The United States has begun a major ground offensive against the Republican Guard near al Kut and has gained control of Highway 6 between al Kut and Baghdad.
- U.S. Third Infantry units surge past Karbala, targeting an estimated 2,000 paramilitaries. Karbala is encircled and undergoes a night-long bombardment from U.S. artillery and warplanes.
- A U.S. commando raid rescues captured American soldier Jessica Lynch from a hospital near an Nasiriyah after combat units launch diversionary engagements elsewhere in the city, seizing a key bridge. The bodies of 11 others are also reportedly removed from the area.
April 1, 2003
- Fighting rages near Karbala between American ground troops and Republican Guard forces.
- At least one person is shot and killed at a checkpoint near the south-central town of Shatra in Iraq.
- Marine ground forces secure an airbase at Qalat Sukkar, southeast of Kut, that is expected to serve as a staging ground.
- An S-3B Viking plane veers off the USS Constellation's flight deck and slipps into the Persian Gulf during landing. The two pilots eject into the water and are rescued by helicopter.
- Overnight, warplanes strike at Iraqi positions around Karbala and Hindiyah. U.S. forces battled some Iraqi fighters in Hindiyah and seized tons of ammunition and hundreds of weapon and maps showing Iraqi military positions and the expected route of the U.S. attack.
- The Marines trade fire with hundreds of Iraqi fighters in Diwaniyah. The Iraqis are firing from inside buildings. At least 75 enemy soldiers have been killed and 44 taken prisoner, including two Republican Guard officers.
- Battles are still raging in an Nasiriyah. An Iraqi spokesman claims Fedayeen troops have destroyed U.S. tanks and armored vehicles.
- U.S. soldiers fight bloody street-to-street battles with Iraqi militants in Najaf, which has been targeted by suicide bombers. At least seven Iraqi women and children are dead after U.S. troops shoot at their car when it failed to stop at a checkpoint.
- An Iraqi missile aimed at Kuwait is intercepted by a Patriot missile over southern Iraq. No reports of damages or injuries on the ground.
- U.S. warplanes drop bombs on Kirkuk.
- U.S. warplanes drop bombs on an Iraqi presidential yacht and another ship near Basra.
- Baghdad undergoes another punishing air attack overnight with U.S. officials claming more than 3,000 precision-guided bombs have been dropped in the past three days. Coalition aircraft targeted a complex that serves as the office of the Iraqi National Olympic Committee and believed to be a torture center run by Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Udai.
March 31, 2003
- U.S. troops kill seven Iraqi women and children at a U.S. Army checkpoint on a highway near Najaf when the Iraqis' van would not stop as ordered. The military is investigating.
- U.S. Marines launched a dawn raid on Shatra, aiming to kill senior Iraqi officials, including "Chemical Ali," the cousin whom President Saddam Hussein has put in charge of the southern front.
- British commandos assault a suburb of Basra, destroying enemy tanks, seizing equipment and taking about 30 Iraqi prisoners.
- U.S. aircraft pound Iraqi positions near the town of Kalak, aiding Kurdish fighters. Iraqi positions on a ridge west of the Zab river come under relentless attack.
- The Army's 82nd Airborne Division kills about 100 "terror squad" members and captures about 50 prisoners at the Shiite holy city of Najaf and a surrounding town."
- U.S. Army troops fight their way into Hindiyah and battle Iraqi forces over a bridge across the Euphrates. At least 15 Iraqis die, and U.S. forces capture several dozen others, identified as Republican Guard fighters.
- Intensified U.S. air attacks strike Iraqi military command and control centers in Baghdad, and Tomahawk cruise missiles hit the Information Ministry, blowing out its windows. Iraq's state TV temporarily goes off the air.
March 30, 2003
- Three people are killed when a Marine UH-1 Huey helicopter crashes while taking off on a support mission.
- Air strikes, led by the U.S., continue to batter Baghdad. Several telephone exchanges in the city are hit, as well as a train loaded with Republican Guard tanks.
- In an Nasirayah, a Marine raid secures buildings held by the Iraqi 11th Infantry Division that contain large caches of chemical decontamination equipment, weapons and ammunition, including more than 300 chemical suits and gas masks, atropine injectors, more than 800 rocket-propelled grenades, along with mines, hundreds of mortar and artillery rounds and thousands of rifle rounds.
- British commandos exchange fire with Iraqi paramilitaries in an eastern suburb of Basra. The operation apparently aims to block off any escape route for Iraqi forces trying to leave Basra.
- The 101st Airborne division surrounds the city of Najaf, where an Iraqi suicide attack March 29 killed four U.S. troops, and secures an airfield after fierce fighting.
- Thousands of Marines push north toward Baghdad in "seek-and-destroy" missions, trying to open the route to the Iraqi capital and stop days of attacks along the stretch that has become known as "Ambush Alley."
- Kurdish militiamen opposed to Saddam join U.S. special forces in an attack on Islamic militants and advance unopposed toward the government-held city of Kirkuk and its oil fields. Machine-gun fire and bombardment are reported near positions of Ansar al-Islam extremists, who are said to have ties to al Qaeda terrorists.
- British officers report they have captured a general from Saddam Hussein's army in the besieged city of Basra. In the meantime, an Iraqi official says 4,000 Arab volunteers have arrived, eager to carry out more suicide attacks against U.S. and British forces.
- At least six people are injured when a man in civilian clothes rams a pickup truck into a group of U.S. soldiers standing by a store at Camp Udairi in Kuwait.
March 29, 2003
- Allied warplanes launch bombing raids near Karbala, targeting Iraqi fuel storage depots.
- The U.S. Central Command says the latest targets in Baghdad hit by coalition aircraft include military facilities at the Abu Garayb Presidential Palace, the Karada military intelligence complex and the barracks of a paramilitary training center.
- Fierce fighting continues to take its toll in an Nasiriyah. Military officials say four Marines are missing.
- An early morning explosion near a major shopping mall in Kuwait City is blamed on an Iraqi missile falling into the sea. Authorities say there were no injuries and little damage.
- Two U.S. Army helicopters crash in southern Iraq, returning from a mission south of Baghdad. Both were heavily damaged, but there are no fatalities.
- U.S. warplanes destroy a two-story building where about 200 Iraqi paramilitary fighters were thought to be meeting. The paramilitaries are holding the city against British troops.
March 28, 2003
- A missile falls into the sea and explodes near Souq Sharq, one of the most popular shopping malls in Kuwait City, but officials say it caused no injuries and little damage.
- At Umm Qasr, the first ship arrives at the allied-controlled port with relief supplies for Iraqi civilians. The Sir Galahad, a British ship, carries 255 tons of water, rice, cooking oil, sugar, beans and powdered milk, as well as medical supplies, blankets and emergency ration packs.
- Near the south-central city of Diwaniyah, one Marine is killed and another injured in fighting with Iraqi irregulars at a cement plant. Two other Marines are killed when a vehicle runs them over while they sleep.
- U.S. paratroopers in northern Iraq are securing oil fields and preparing for a move on Baghdad.
- U.S. Marines and Iraqi forces exchanged tank and artillery fire in an-Nasariyah. Several buildings, including the power plant, were ablaze. A Marine was killed in a battle at a cement plant and the U.S. suffered 25 casualties in a "friendly fire" incident.
- Coalition sources say a missile launcher in southern Iraq is located and destroyed overnight. The mobile launcher is believed responsible for many of the incoming Iraqi missiles to Kuwait.
- Iraqi paramilitary forces in Basra fire mortars and machine gun fire on a "couple of thousand" Iraqi civilians trying to flee city. British forces have the city surrounded.
- In the heaviest air strikes in days in Baghdad, the U.S. drops two 4,700-pound "bunker-buster" bombs on a communications tower in Baghdad. Intense U.S. bombardment is aimed at cutting off Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's commanders from Iraqi forces.
March 27, 2003
- An American C-130 cargo plane lands at Tallil airbase, according to the Associated Press. Several American units already are operating at Tallil but this is the first U.S. plane to land. Tallil is expected to be a major resupply base for American forces.
- A missile fired at Kuwait from southern Iraq is shot down by a Patriot missile. No damage is reported in the area.
- The strongest explosions in days rock central Baghdad late in the evening. Buildings close to the Information Ministry are apparently hit. Iraq claims cruise missile strikes have killed 36 civilians and injured 215. The U.S. acknowledges aiming at missile launchers concealed in Baghdad neighborhoods, but denies targeting residents.
- Marines are reportedly engaged in house-to-house battles in an Nasiriyah. In a friendly fire incident reported by French and British journalists here, about 30 U.S. Marines at a command post are injured by shell and mortar fire believed to have come from American troops; there's no information from U.S. Central Command on the report.
- In Basra, coalition forces destroy part of a column of 120 Iraqi vehicles. The British say the vehicles were manned by inexperienced troops, rounded up by Saddam loyalists to keep them from deserting.
- In clashes outside Karbala, Iraqi armored personnel carriers approach coalition positions but are blasted back by U.S. warplanes.
- About 1,000 U.S. paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade jump into Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, opening up a new front. Working with Kurdish militiamen, they secure the area around a strategic air strip.
March 26, 2003
- U.S. military intelligence officers say 3,000 Republican Guard troops have been spotted moving from Baghdad southeast on Highway 7. They are apparently headed toward Al Kut, where another 2,000 Iraqi troops have been spotted toward the south. The route avoids U.S. Army forces but leads directly to Marines who have been fighting around an Nasiriyah.
- Two cruise missiles land in the northern Baghdad community of Al-Shaab, killing 14 people and injuring 30, according to Iraqi defense officials. U.S. military officials deny targeting the residential area, but can't say whether the strike was caused by Iraqi weapons, or coalition missiles that went off course.
- British forces continue the effort to wrest control of Basra from 1,000 die-hard Iraqi loyalists. There are reports that some sort of insurrection occurred earlier in the city, but details are sketchy.
- Bombing of Baghdad continues as allied forces strike Iraqi state-run television, knocking the signal off the air. The broadcast resumes at daybreak.
- Army forces kill up to 500 Iraqi troops after coming under attack near An Najaf. there are no U.S. casualties in the battle, although two U.S. tanks are damaged.
March 25, 2003
- U.S. ground forces engage elements of the Republican Guard for the first time, CBS News sources say. The action involves troops on the leading edge of the road to Baghdad.
- In a friendly fire incident, an American F-16 fires on a U.S. Patriot missile battery about 30 miles south of Najaf. There are no U.S. casualties.
- An Iraqi missile aimed at Camp Doha in Kuwait is successfully intercepted by a Patriot, the Pentagon says.
- Huge explosions to the south shake buildings in the heart of the capital. With coalition troops closing in, the streets are nearly empty as people hunker down in anticipation of the battle for Baghdad.
- British forces surround Basra amid reports of a civilian uprising, which a British commander says may have started when the Iraqis fired on their own people. A "friendly fire" incident here kills two British soldiers.
- Coalition forces break through the enemy line at an Nasiriyah and capture an Iraqi military hospital that was being used as a military staging area. Marines fight a pitched battle to the north in which they kill or capture some 200 Iraqi soldiers and take no casualties.
- U.S. forces pound military targets near Karbala with howitzers and rockets in an all-night artillery barrage that lights up the clouds like lightning. Coalition forces will cross the "red line," which could possibly trigger the Iraqi's use of chemical weapons, for the first time in this city 50 miles south of Baghdad.
- Umm Qasr, where U.S. and British forces have faced Iraqi resistance for days, is declared "safe and open" by the British. Supplies and humanitarian aid should begin arriving through this port town within 24 hours.
March 24, 2003
- A British soldier is killed in combat near Az
Zubayr, the first British combat death since the war began.
- U.S. helicopters begin attacking Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard forces arrayed around Baghdad. The city is pounded by the strongest airstrikes since the first day of "shock and awe." One large explosion shakes a Ministry of Planning building within the Old Palace.
- U.S. troops find a suspected chemical weapons factory near the Shiite holy city of Najaf. A mobile lab is called in to search for evidence that it is a so-called dual use site. Outside the city, U.S. soldiers skirmish with Iraqi forces before dawn; the Iraqis shoot rockets and anti-aircraft guns at the Americans.
- An Iraqi missile is intercepted by a Patriot battery during an attack on coalition forces in Kuwait.
- The Army's 3rd Infantry Division advances to Karbala, about 50 miles form Baghdad. Meanwhile, Iraqi television shows footage of what Iraqi officials say is a U.S. Apache Longbow attack helicopter shot down by peasants in a field near the city. The Pentagon confirms that one Apache is missing. Tape of two men alleged to be the captured pilots is aired by the Iraqis later in the day.
- A U.S. missile hits a passenger bus carrying Syrian workers fleeing Iraq, killing five and injuring 10, according to Syria's official news agency. A U.S. general expresses regret for the incident, saying the bomb was aimed at a bridge 100 miles from the Syrian border and the bus came into view too late to stop the hit.
- A day after bloody battles in an Nasiriyah, a convoy of hundreds of coalition vehicles and thousands of Marines occupies the road leading to a pontoon bridge across the Euphrates River. Because of the stiff resistance troops have met here, military officials might sidestep the city rather than capture it - or they may decide to send a message by doing just the opposite. Troops search house-to-house to flush out resistance.
- Coalition forces skirmish with Iraqi forces before dawn in the area around Basra. Troops have remained outside the city, not attempting to move through it because of pockets of resistance from irregular units. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says "urgent measures" are needed to restore the city's electricity and water supply.
March 23, 2003
- Approximately 50 Marines are killed or wounded in fighting around an-Nasiriya. They defeat a highly-trained Iraqi militia group called the Sedaveen in an eight-hour battle for control of two strategic bridges in the city. A U.S. general says 12 U.S. troops are reported missing from battle.
- Iraq captures several prisoners of war in the south, and parades some of them on television.
- CBS News has learned that Special Operations troops have deployed near Baghdad, as Iraqi troops appear to be drawing back toward the capital city. More explosions rock Baghdad as the rolling air campaign continues.
- A British Royal Air Force fighter aircraft is mistakenly shot down by a Patriot missile battery near the Iraqi border with Kuwait, killing two British fliers.
- An American soldier from the 3rd Infantry Division is killed in a vehicle accident as the division's 2nd Brigade rolls to within 100 miles of Baghdad. One hundred Iraqi soldiers die in clashes with the troops and 20 others are taken as POWs.
- British troops sit on the outskirts of Basra, hoping Iraqi troops will surrender rather than fight in the streets.
- U.S.-British invasion forces face street fighting from guerrilla soldiers in Umm Qasr. The city has been secured by the coalition despite these pockets of resistance.
March 22, 2003
- Grenades are thrown into three tents at a 101st Airborne command center in Kuwait, killing one American serviceman and wounding 13 others. A U.S. soldier is detained as a suspect in the attack.
- The Army's 3rd Infantry Division defeats the Iraqi 11th Division to capture the city of an-Nasiriya as well as two bridges that cross the Euphrates, opening the road to Baghdad.
- Four F/A-18 Hornets from the USS Kitty Hawk's Golden Dragons squadron report dropping seven laser-guided bombs on artillery pieces at Al-Qurnah, north of Basra, in support of the advancing 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
- An American Navy officer and six Britons die in a mid-air collision of two British navy helicopters over the Persian Gulf.
- U.S. forces fire Tomahawk cruise missiles at suspected positions of the Ansar al Islam guerrillas, a group the United States accuses of ties to al Qaeda terrorists.
- Pentagon officials confirm three U.S. missiles may have gone astray in Iran.
- Marines capture Basra's airport after a gunbattle with Iraqi troops. U.S. aircraft bomb Iraqi tanks protecting bridges as coalition troops move on this strategic city. Iraqi forces respond with artillery fire.
- The air war on Baghdad resumes with a massive explosion that shakes the center of the city just before dawn. The attacks continue into daylight, with plans to hit 1,000 targets using 600 cruise missiles and virtually every type of warplane in the American arsenal, including the B-2 stealth bomber.
March 21, 2003
- Iraq's entire 51st Infantry Division - numbering about 8,000 soldiers and including about 200 tanks -- surrenders as coalition forces advance toward Basra, Pentagon officials say.
- Air strikes hammer target in Mosul, Kirkuk, Basra, an-Nasiriya and Saddam's hometown of Tikrit.
- Enormous explosions rock Baghdad as the U.S. aerial campaign begins. The attack includes large numbers of Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Iraqis respond with anti-aircraft shots. Many buildings in the heart of the capital are set ablaze, including three major fires at the Old Palace compound. As the fires rage, aircraft are heard over Baghdad for the first time.
- A U.S. Marine from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force dies while fighting enemy Iraqi forces near Umm Qasr.
- U.S. Marines gain full control of the strategic port of Umm Qasr, according to British military officials.
- American forces seize the airfields known as H-2 and H-3 in far western Iraq. Iraqi troops offer little resistance.
- A U.S. Marine from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force dies in the advance on the Rumeila oil field.
- Advancing through the deserts of Southern Iraq, U.S. Marines run into mortar fire as they take the main highway leading to the key southern Iraqi port city of Basra.
- British troops move on the strategic al-Faw peninsula, Iraq's access point to the Persian Gulf and the site of major oil facilities.
- Some 200 Iraqi soldiers surrender to the U.S. 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit just over an hour after it crosses the border from northern Kuwait. American and British troops encounter both hostile fire and white flags in their race across the desert.
- Eight British and four American soldiers die in a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crash, about 9 miles south of the Iraqi border town of Umm Qasr. A British military spokesman says it was an accident.
- Iraq retaliates by launching missiles at U.S. troop positions in Kuwait. Troops don gas masks several times. The Kuwaiti Defense Ministry says six missiles were fired.
- During the day, U.S. forces in northern Kuwait open a thundering barrage of artillery across the desert border, along with volleys of rockets. The U.S. 3rd Infantry Division attacks
Iraqi troops with howitzers and multiple launch rocket systems, firing more than 100 shells.
- Under the shelter of night, and with the support of heavy bombing, the 1st Marine Division enters Iraq at around 9 p.m. local time.
- As the Marines enter Iraq, they report seeing burning oil wells that send a black cloud into the night sky under a nearly full
- The Marines skirmish with Iraqi troops. They open fire with machine guns on an Iraqi T-55 tank and finally destroy it with a Javelin, a portable anti-missile.
- Soon after the incursions are reported, sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles hit Baghdad. They almost simultaneously hit the main presidential palace near the Tigris and the Ministry of Planning, which is engulfed in flames.
- Explosions are reported in the northern city of Mosul.