Published 5:38 am Wednesday, March 19, 2003
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. forces launched a strike against ''targets of military opportunity'' in Iraq, President Bush said Wednesday night. He described the action as the opening salvo in an operation to ''disarm Iraq and to free its people.''
Bush spoke after the U.S. military struck with cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs against a site near Baghdad, where Iraqi leaders were thought to be, U.S. government officials said. There was no indication whether the attack was successful.
The strikes used Tomahawk cruise missiles and precision-guided bombs dropped from F-117 Nighthawks, the Air Force's stealth fighter-bombers, military officials said.
Bush addressed the nation about two hours after his 8 p.m. EST ultimatum for Saddam Hussein to give up power.
As he has many times in the run-up to war, Bush declared that the United States has ''no ambition in Iraq except to remove a threat. Our forces will be coming home as soon as their work is done.''
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer had announced Bush's plans to speak on short notice.
He spoke as a U.S-led force of 300,000 troops ringed Iraq, ready to launch a ferocious assault to topple the Iraqi dictator and capture any weapons of mass destruction.