|Wednesday, 21 February 2024
Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation: News in English, 03-03-20
From: The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation at <http://www.cybc.com.cy/>
 HeadlinesU.S. President George W. Bush unleashed a war to topple Saddam Hussein on Thursday with dawn air strikes on Baghdad but the Iraqi leader responded defiantly, decrying the "criminal Bush",
Announcing the start of a campaign to oust Saddam and disarm Iraq, Bush said "selected targets" were hit. But U.S. officials said an all-out air and ground offensive might be days away,
The war touched off a hail of international protest led by France, Russia and China, key U.N. Security Council members opposed to any military action not approved by the council,
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Israel had no plans to be sucked into the war against Iraq but was praying for the safety of coalition troops,
Iraqi Oil Minister Amir Muhammed Rasheed denied reports that oil wells near the southern Iraqi city of Basra were on fire.
 Iraq WrapU.S. President George W. Bush unleashed a war to topple Saddam Hussein on Thursday with dawn air strikes on Baghdad but the Iraqi leader responded defiantly, decrying the "criminal Bush".
Announcing the start of a campaign to oust Saddam and disarm Iraq, Bush said "selected targets" were hit. But U.S. officials said an all-out air and ground offensive might be days away.
A U.S. admiral on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf said four U.S. ships and two submarines had fired cruise missiles in what he called Operation Iraqi Freedom.
U.S. officials said F-117A stealth fighters and long-range cruise missiles had attacked Baghdad in the dawn raids.
Reuters correspondents in Baghdad heard the first explosions about 90 minutes after the expiry of a U.S. ultimatum to Saddam and his two sons to leave Iraq by 4 a.m. (0100 GMT). Jets roared over as anti-aircraft gunners fired and air raid sirens wailed.
A British military spokesman in Qatar said cruise missiles targeted a meeting of five Iraqi officials in Baghdad.
An Iraqi minister said a U.S. bid to "assassinate" Saddam had failed.
The British spokesman did not name the officials, but the Washington Post reported the raid was ordered after the CIA had located where Saddam was meeting aides in a private residence.
U.S. officials said the aim was to "decapitate" the Iraqi government, but television appearances by Saddam and two aides suggested that key figures had survived the initial assaults.
Three hours after the raids began, a grim-faced Saddam appeared on state television in military uniform, black beret and thick-rimmed glasses, urging Iraqis to defend their country.
"The criminal little Bush has committed a crime against humanity," the Iraqi leader said, reading from notes. It was not certain the broadcast was live but Saddam mentioned when the attack began.
About six hours after the U.S. raids on Baghdad, the Kuwaiti defence ministry said scud missiles landed in northern Kuwait and experts in chemical protection suits were checking the site.
The war touched off a hail of international protest led by France, Russia and China, key U.N. Security Council members opposed to any military action not approved by the council.
The raids on Baghdad appeared limited and there was no sign yet of the awesome display of force predicted by military analysts to stun Iraqi troops and sap their will to fight.
A U.S. military commander in Kuwait said limited raids would go on for two or three days ahead of any huge assault, which U.S. officials have said could involve a fearsome salvo of at least three thousand satellite-guided bombs and cruise missiles.
The commander, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the planned strikes would be beefed-up versions of the bombing raids carried out in Iraq's southern "no-fly" zone in recent years.
An Iraqi official said the U.S. raids, spread over three hours, had hit non-military targets, wounding several civilians.
 Kuwait scudA Kuwaiti defence ministry spokesman said an Iraqi Scud missile hit northern Kuwait.
He told Reuters the attack, at about 0940 GMT, followed two earlier missile attacks which also landed in the northern desert.
Kuwaiti officials said those two missiles were smaller Chinese-made missiles.
Separately, U.S. officers said two Scuds hit Kuwait, and another two were inbound.
The official Kuwaiti News Agency earlier said two Iraqi Scuds fired at Kuwait were shot down by U.S. Patriot anti-missile batteries.
A British government report last September said Iraq had retained up to 20 Soviet-designed Scud missiles since the 1991 Gulf War, with a range of up to 650 kilometers, and capable of reaching nations including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, Turkey and Iran.
 Israel warForeign Minister Silvan Shalom said Israel had no plans to be sucked into the war against Iraq but was praying for the safety of coalition troops.
Senior Israeli government sources said the United States gave Israel 90 minutes advance notification of its initial military strikes in Iraq.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and informed him the United States intended to attack a specific target in Baghdad before a more comprehensive campaign begins, the sources said.
Israel has said repeatedly it intends to play no role in the war but has reserved the right to retaliate if Iraq attacks it.
Israel has prepared two lines of missile defence against Iraqi Scuds -- the multi-billion-dollar Arrow system developed after the 1991 Gulf War and upgraded U.S.-made Patriot missiles.
Taking precautions against possible Iraqi chemical or biological missile attack, the army has advised Israelis to use plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal a room in their homes and to begin carrying gas masks everywhere.
The instructions were a throwback to 1991, when Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles armed with conventional warheads at Israel, causing heavy damage to some residential neighbourhoods near Tel Aviv but few casualties.
Israeli officials have also said that this time Iraq has not deployed any Scuds within striking range of Israel.
 Sezer IraqTurkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer questioned the legitimacy of what he called unilateral U.S. action against Iraq.
The United Nations Security Council process on Iraq, he said, should have been allowed to finish adding that it is wrong for that the U.S. behaved unilaterally before that process ended.
His comments added weight to the parliamentary opposition ahead of a vote later in the day on a resolution to allow U.S. warplanes to use Turkish airspace for Iraq attacks.
 Chirac commentPresident Jacques Chirac said that France regretted the outbreak of war in Iraq and saw serious consequences for the future no matter how long the hostilities lasted.
He said in a statement that France, which staunchly opposed United States and British efforts to have the United Nations authorise the attacks, remained convinced that only the world body had the right to take collective action for peace.
Chirac expressed regret that this action was taken without the approval of the United Nations.
Chirac, who was due to travel to Brussels later on Thursday to attend a European Union summit, said Europe must present its own view of the world's problems and form a common defence policy.
 Oil BasraIraqi Oil Minister Amir Muhammed Rasheed denied reports that oil wells near the southern Iraqi city of Basra were on fire.
He told Reuters that the pictures received from the area is a film from the American gangs and is misleading and prejudiced.
Kuwait television earlier reported that several oil wells near Basra had been set alight by Iraqi troops.
The oilfields of southern Iraq pump about a million barrels per day of the country's exports which had been running at about 1.7 million.
And the region holds most of Iraq's untapped reserves.
Exports of Basra Light crude from the Iraqi Gulf port of Mina al-Bakr have been stopped since Monday after banks refused to grant payment guarantees to customers and U.N. oil inspectors were evacuated.
A Saudi source earlier told Reuters that while markets were well supplied, the main fear for oil traders was that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would torch his oilfields to hinder invading U.S. troops.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are still tormented by the 1991 Gulf war when departing Iraqi troops blew up Kuwaiti oil wells and were seen as a menace to Saudi oil sector.
 WeatherIt will be mainly fine this afternoon, however light showers are expected, particularly on the mountains. Winds will be moderate southwesterly, force four to five, over moderate seas. Temperatures will reach 16 degrees inland, 18 on the coasts and five on the mountains. Tonight it will be mainly fine, with light westerly winds force three over slight to moderate seas. Temperatures will fall to five degrees inland, seven on the coasts and zero on the mountains. The depth of snow on mount Olympus is 40 centimetres, with 15 in Troodos square.