Disarmament Has Begun

March 19, 2003
Posted at: 8:45 p.m. CST

WASHINGTON - U.S. forces launched a surgical military strike against a "target of opportunity" near Baghdad after U.S. intelligence detected the possibility Iraqi leaders were in the area, a senior government official said Wednesday night.

The official declined to identify the leaders who were targeted or to say whether the attack was successful.

Plan for targeting Iraqi leadership included using F-117 stealth bombers and a handful of cruise missiles, a military official later said.

Addressing the nation from the Oval Office, Bush said it's an operation to disarm Iraq, free the Iraqi people and save the world from ''grave danger.''

Bush said the war could be ''longer and more difficult than some predict.'' The president said the U-S and its allies would make every effort to spare the lives of innocent civilians.

He assured Americans that the troops would be coming home ''as soon as their work is done.'' Bush said the country won't live ''at the mercy of an outlaw regime'' that threatens peace with weapons of mass destruction.

Bush said it won't be a ''campaign of half measures'' -- and that he will accept ''no outcome but victory.'' He said the U.S. will defend freedom, and bring freedom to others -- and he said the U.S. will prevail.

Bush says tonight's U.S. strikes in Iraq were against ''targets of military opportunity.''

The president's speech came about two hours after the deadline passed for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq. And it came after explosions were heard across Baghdad.

A senior government official said a target was struck near Baghdad after U.S. intelligence detected the possibility that Iraqi leaders were in the area. But the official wouldn't identify the leaders, or say whether the attack was a successful.

More to come...

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