US and British troops take Iraqi border town
Thursday 20 March 2003
US and British troops captured the Iraqi town of Umm Qasr on Thursday in the first land assault of the war. The town is a port on the Kuwaiti border in the south of the country, 30 miles south of the key city of Basra.
Meanwhile Baghdad suffered its second night of bombardment by US-led forces, with cruise missiles targetting Republican Guard strongholds.
Iraqi television reported that Presidential palaces - including those belonging to Saddam Hussein's wife and his three daughters - had been hit.
A building in Saddam Hussein's main presidential compound went up in flames, with a huge plume of black smoke streaking skyward.
Earlier in the day, the US 3rd Infantry Division's artillery opened fire on Iraqi troops with Paladin self-propelled howitzers and multiple launch rocket systems shortly before 1700 GMT.
US attack helicopters could also be heard apparently joining the battle.
Earlier, Donald Rumsfeld confirmed that Iraqi soldiers have set light to "three or four" oilfields near Basra.
"I have seen indications and reports that the Iraqi regime may have set fire to as many as three or four of the oil wells in the south" said the US Defence Secretary.
US troops in Kuwait had reportedly been ordered to get ready for an attack on Iraq by 4.30pm GMT.
Some marines were already said to be in Iraq heading for a "specific target" believed to be the oilfields.
Iraq had initially responded to the first US strikes overnight by firing a number of missiles into Kuwait.
One of the missiles landed close to US marines based at Camp Commando in northern Kuwait at 7.28 GMT. Soldiers wore protective equipment until it was confirmed that the missile contained only conventional explosives.
US Army troops at Camp New Jersey are also believed to have been targeted.
Two missiles are reported to have been intercepted by US Patriot anti-missile defences, whilst another landed in Kuwaiti territory. There have been no reported casualties.
Some reports suggest that up to eight missiles were fired at Kuwait, including Al-Samouds and Seersuckers, as well as Scuds.
If some of the missiles are confirmed to have been Scuds it would be seen as proof that Iraq has been in breach of the US resolution banning them from having missiles with a range beyond 150km.
Earlier, in a broadcast which Iraqi TV said was made live by Saddam Hussein, he accused the US of committing a "shameful crime" by attacking Iraq, urging his people to "draw your sword" against the enemy. Wearing a military uniform and reading from hand-written notes, he vowed that "Iraq will be victorious" against the US-led campaign.
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Malaysia Airlines: Search for true identity of passengers with stolen passports launched as terrorism concern grows
Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
International Women’s Day: 'When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch' - feminist quotes from female icons to inspire you
Dead woman's body found sitting in a car after six years after direct debits ran $54,000 bank account dry
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 3 Dear 'The Sun', breast cancer isn't sexy
- 4 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 5 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...