The Week's March To War

March 23, 2003


President Bush, meeting in the Portuguese Azores in the Atlantic, with the prime ministers of Spain and Portugal at his side, declared that the United Nations had 24 hours to approve a resolution to attack Iraq.

Great Britain submitted a resolution to the U.N. Security Council demanding immediate Iraqi disarmament, or war, but the majority of the council was opposed and the resolution was withdrawn.

Almost 300,000 U.S. and British troops were ready to invade Iraq.

Iraqis stocked food and other supplies -- lining up at gasoline stations, mobbing pharmacies for antibiotics and sandbagging positions outside government buildings.


The stock market began a steady climb based on the assumption that war would start soon and end quickly.

President Bush, speaking to the world from the White House, said Saddam Hussein and his two sons had 48 hours to leave Iraq or be attacked.

Bush made it clear that even if Hussein yields, U.S.-led forces would invade Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction and democratize the nation.

Hussein showed no signs of acquiescing to U.S. demands.


Saddam Hussein rejected the ultimatum that he and his two sons flee Iraq or be forcibly removed, a move that the White House called his "final mistake."

The United States was placed on a code orange terrorism alert status, and state and city authorities asked for federal help in paying the cost.

America's traditional European allies continued to oppose the war, led by France and Germany, where Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder warned that the U. S.-led war against Iraq would result in "certain death to thousands of innocent men, women and children."

Tony Blair, British prime Minister, defeated a motion in Parliament opposing the war in Iraq, even after three members of his government resigned and 139 members of his Labor Party voted against him.


The deadline for Saddam Hussein to comply with the U.S. demand to leave Iraq with his two sons expired.

Almost immediately afterward, the United States launched an attack at dawn in Baghdad against an Iraqi command target identified as a "target of opportunity," presumably a leadership target, possibly including Hussein.

President Bush, speaking from the Oval Office, said the opening stages of a war to dismantle Iraq's weapons of mass destruction had begun.

Iraqi military were told through radio messages and dropped leaflets to surrender.

Seventeen Iraqi solders surrendered to U.S. troops near the Kuwait-Iraq border.


U.S.-led forces intensified the bombardment of Iraq, especially in Baghdad, where dense, black smoke rose from several locations believed to be strongholds of Hussein's elite Republican Guard.

That action coincided with Iraq firing missiles at U.S. positions in Kuwait and purportedly torching several oil wells.

American forces used a variety of ways to get the enemy to surrender: dropping leaflets, sending e-mail messages and speaking privately with Iraqi officers, telling them to surrender their units by signing "articles of capitulation," a legal move not used since World War II.

Saddam Hussein appeared on Iraqi television to say he is alive and to call on Iraqis to "draw your swords" against invaders.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that Hussein's "days were numbered."

U.S. troops reported seeing flames near the Iraqi oil center of Basra. Officials later said at least six oil wells were set on fire before the invasion began.

Eight British Royal Commandos and four American Marines were killed when their CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed in Kuwait, apparently not because of enemy action.

Two U.S. Marines became the coalition force's first confirmed combat casualties when they were killed in separate battles in southern Iraq.

Rumsfeld said that contact had been made with members of Iraq's Republican Guard and other members of the Iraqi military about surrendering.


Two British Navy helicopters collided over the Persian Gulf, and seven on board were killed, including a U.S. Navy officer.

Huge explosions left mushroom clouds over Baghdad as a tremendous U.S. aerial attack focused on the government complex. Other explosions were reported in Kirkuk and Mosul, major cities north of Baghdad.

British and American marines entered Umm Qasr, an Iraqi port near the Kuwait border. The U.S. flag was briefly raised by soldiers before it was ordered taken down.

The commander of Iraq's 51st Division, which was deployed in southern Iraq in the path of the allied invasion, and his top deputy surrendered to U.S. Marines.

American armored and infantry brigades encountered little opposition as they methodically marched into southern Iraq.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Saddam Hussein and his lieutenants are "starting to lose control of their country."

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