Daily summary of war-related events

Knight Ridder Newspapers (KRT) MILITARY ACTION Late Thursday, military officials reported the first U.S. and British casualties in the war. A U.S. Marine transport helicopter with 16 aboard crashed in Kuwait. The four-person crew, all Americans, was killed. British officials would not comment on their 12 on board, but U.S. military sources said there were no survivors. The land war began Thursday as U.S. Marines, Navy Seals and British commandos _ 60,000 in all _ moved from Kuwait into southern Iraq. “Aim point,” said Marine Col. Joe Dowdy, “is Baghdad.” But U.S. officials put their much-anticipated “shock and awe” strategy on hold and instead concentrated on Iraqi observation posts and artillery installations that could impede a U.S. and British advance. On Thursday evening in Baghdad, U.S. bombs fell for the second night in a row. One of the sites set afire was Saddam Hussein’s presidential compound. Iraq fired four missiles at Kuwait but Patriot missiles intercepted three and the fourth did little damage. Late Thursday in London, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that 45,000 British troops had joined the battle “from air, land and sea.” His Royal Marine Commandos helped the U.S. protect three key oil installations. If Iraqis had been successful in opening their taps, it might have caused an environmental disaster in the Persian Gulf. Iraqi forces did succeed in setting fire to nine wells and pipelines, which caused allied forces to hasten their schedule for action on the ground. ___ ELSEWHERE OVERSEAS In Ankara, Turkey, the parliament voted to open airspace to U.S planes, but it did not grant permission for U.S. troops to attack Iraq through Turkey. In Iran, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi condemned the attack but said his nation would not “enter into action to the benefit of either side.” In southeastern Afghanistan, some 1,000 U.S. forces searched three villages for al-Qaida fighters. The mission (code name Operation Valiant Strike) was near Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. The Pentagon would not say whether the operation was aimed at finding Osama bin Laden. In Ruwayshid, Jordan, workers preparing for a wave of refugees struggled to build tents amid high winds. The city is linked to Baghdad by a major highway. On Thursday, some 250 Sudanese arrived from Iraq. ___ IN WASHINGTON CIA officials said they believed it was Saddam Hussein, not a body double, who spoke on Iraqi television shortly after the missile attack on Baghdad, but the analysts said his appearance could have been recorded previously. The FBI issued a worldwide alert for a Saudi who may be plotting a dirty bomb attack in the United States for al-Qaida. The suspect, Adnan El Shukrijumah, 27, had a home in Miramar, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale. He is described as 5 foot 3 to 5 foot 5 and at least 132 pounds with black hair, black eyes and a Mediterranean complexion. President Bush said the “ever-growing coalition of the willing” now includes 40 nations that support the war against Iraq. Three _ the United States, Britain and Australia _ have committed combat troops. Lawmakers discussed the need to protect commercial aircraft from the threat of shoulder-fired missiles that could be used by terrorists. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said he knows of no immediate threat but that the possibilities are alarming. He favors funding to help develop anti-missile systems for airliners. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., said a bill they propose would require laser jammers that would make a missile veer off course. ___ AROUND THE USA In San Francisco, thousands of anti-war demonstrators created havoc during both the morning and evening rush hours. They blocked entrances to major corporations and clogged intersections, staying on the move in an attempt to outmaneuver police. Firefighters used chain saws to cut steel pipes that protesters used to lock themselves together. In Philadelphia, workers at the Federal Building could not start their day on time because of hundreds of anti-war protesters who converged there. The United Nations will hold talks Friday on Secretary General Kofi Annan’s plan to revamp the now-suspended oil-for-food program to provide immediate relief in Iraq. ___ WEATHER IN BAGHDAD Friday Partly cloudy High temperature: 70 Low temperature: 46 ___ QUOTE “Yeah, I was a little shook up, but then I thought, `Well, we’re finally at war.’ ” _ Pfc. Justin Davis, a 19-year-old Marine from Chattanooga, Tenn., after the first missile attack on a U.S. base in Kuwait ___ ON THE WEB For complete coverage of the war in Iraq, go to the Web site of the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau (www.krwashington.com). ___ ‘copy 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.