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Iraq Journals

Glimpses of life in a war-torn country by GNS national security correspondent John Yaukey and photo director Jeff Franko.


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Recall key dates, browse defining photos from six weeks of combat in Iraq. (Requires Flash)


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Saturday, March 22

Recapping the war in Iraq

By Carl Weiser and Derrick DePledge | GNS

Updated: 5:18 p.m., March 23

WASHINGTON - The United States went to war last week in what President Bush said was a campaign to dethrone an Iraqi regime that tormented its own people and stockpiled some of the world's most dangerous weapons. A deeply divided world watched the United States demonstrate its overwhelming military might in Iraq.


After an unexpected beginning to the war - a targeted strike aimed at Iraq President Saddam Hussein and senior Iraqi leaders - Operation Iraqi Freedom's intensity increased dramatically.

Thunderous explosions illuminated Baghdad in what the Pentagon described as a massive show of force to persuade the Iraqi military to quickly surrender.

The precision-guided air raids targeted hundreds of military and other sites in Baghdad and key cities while armored divisions rolled toward the capital. Pentagon officials said they did not know whether Saddam was dead or alive but they were confident the Iraqi chain of command had been disrupted.

Special operations forces seized an airfield in western Iraq, and Navy SEALs and special forces captured gas and oil terminals in the northern Persian Gulf. Allied forces took control of port facilities in Umm Qasr and coalition ships searched three tugboats and seized 139 floating mines along with weapons and uniforms. U.S. ground forces, led by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and 3rd Infantry Division, had moved more than 150 miles into Iraq by Sunday.

Several thousand Iraqi soldiers had surrendered or refused to fight as of Sunday. The United States has dropped nearly 2 million leaflets over Iraq over the past several days - out of a total 17 million this year - urging the Iraqi military not to use weapons of mass destruction or damage the nation's oil fields. Military officials said nine oil fields in southern Iraq were set on fire or damaged.


Several U.S. soldiers were killed or wounded Sunday in fighting near An Nasiriyah in the heaviest combat since the war began. The Pentagon said a supply convoy was ambushed Sunday and 12 soldiers were missing or had been captured by Iraq and were prisoners of war.

One soldier was killed and 15 were wounded Sunday when grenades exploded at a U.S. camp in Kuwait. A U.S. soldier was in custody in connection with the attack.

One soldier was killed and another injured Sunday in a vehicle accident in southern Iraq.

Six British and one U.S. Navy crew members were killed Saturday when two Royal Navy helicopters collided in an accident over waters south of Iraq. Pentagon officials said two Marines were killed in combat on Friday, one after a fire fight near an oil-pumping station in southern Iraq, and the other near Umm Qasr. Twelve soldiers - eight British and four American - were killed Thursday in a helicopter crash in northern Kuwait.


Bush on Monday night gave Saddam Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave Baghdad. That marked the end of efforts at the United Nations to win international backing for an invasion of Iraq. France, Russia and Germany, who had opposed military action, denounced the U.S. move.

The United States argued it was enforcing about a dozen United Nations resolutions calling for Iraq's disarmament, but other nations, including some considered allies, denounced the move as immoral, dangerous and a violation of international law.


The administration said the ``coalition of the willing'' had expanded to 45 countries by week's end, including nations such as Palau, Mongolia and Costa Rica.

Meanwhile, protests around the world and in the United States grew larger and more violent as the week progressed, especially in the Arab world. Four people were killed in war protests in Yemen, and police turned water cannons on protesters in Cairo, Egypt.

Protesters converged in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington for weekend rallies, but polls show that - as is traditional during wartime - the public rallied around the troops. Three in four Americans now support the war, according to a USA TODAY-CNN-Gallup Poll taken Thursday.


A resolution to support the troops passed Congress overwhelmingly early Friday. But the president's decision to go to war still sparked sharp partisan differences. Early last week, the top Democrat in Washington, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, said he was ``saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for the country.'' By week's end, Daschle supported the Senate resolution supporting Bush and the armed forces. While the Senate passed the troop-supporting resolution unanimously, 32 House members - all but one a Democrat - voted ``no'' or ``present.''