Iraq Bombings: How the air offensive unfolded

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The Independent Online
Wednesday, 9.50pm (GMT): Anti-aircraft fire starts in Baghdad.

10.00: The US confirms 100 missiles have been launched.

10.20: Prime Minister Tony Blair says there is "no alternative" to the attack.

11.00: Sixty people protest in Downing Street.

11.15: The Pentagon briefs US Defense Secretary William Cohen and Joint Chief of Staff General Hugh Shelton. The military build-up is to increase.

11.30: More anti-aircraft fire in Baghdad.

11.50: France expresses "regret" that the Iraqi authorities have not co-operated with the weapons inspectors. Russia and China are also critical.

12.00: US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says the fight is not against the Iraqi people. She drops strong hints to the Iraqi opposition to take control.

Yesterday 12.20am: Sandy Berger, US National Security Adviser, justifies the attack. There are reports of strikes near one of President Saddam Hussein's palaces.

1.40: In New York, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says the attack is "a sad day for the world"

1.45: President Saddam urges Iraq to "resist and fight the enemies of God."

2.10: The Ministry of Information in Baghdad says a missile hit a water facility in a residential area injuring four people and causing a large crater.

3.20: An Iraqi doctor says 45 dead, 200 casualties.

8:51: Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov calls the air strikes "outrageous".

8:56: Air strikes against Iraq will not end today, according to Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.10:20: Angry Palestinians burn the US flag and denounce President Bill Clinton for attacking Iraq.

11:44: Baghdad radio says the home of one of President Saddam's daughters was hit.

11:56: Iran protests over a stray missile that crashed into Khorramshahr a city near its border with Iraq.

12:08pm: Mr Cohen says preliminary reports showed a "good measure

of success" in hitting Iraqi targets.

12:15: President Saddamvisits some of the sites hit by US missiles in his first public appearance since the strikes began.

3:11: Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Sahaf says US attacks caused heavy casualties among the civilian population.

3:43: Mr Blair says British Tornado warplanes were in action over Iraq.

4:13: The Pentagon says "200-plus" Tomahawk cruise missiles were used in the first wave of strikes and that "they have plans for 300-plus more to go."

5:33: US Air Force B-52 bombers and Navy attack jets begin a second round of cruise missile and bombing raids against targets in Iraq.