Coalition By Land, Sea Pushes Into Iraq, Kuwait

Thousands surrender; Iraqi elite force moves toward engagement

AMERICAN Marines and coalition Arab troops had driven deep inside Kuwait and were poised to enter Kuwait City yesterday. On what was only the second day of the ground war against Iraqi troops, military sources reported little resistance. But reports from the front said that the Iraqi Republican Guard had begun abandoning their dug-in positions along the Iraqi border with Kuwait and were advancing south to meet the coalition armies. The elite 150,000-strong force is equipped with Soviet-made T-72 tanks and long-range artillery capable of firing chemical shells. Defeat of the Republican Guard is described as the key to coalition success. By early yesterday, more than 14,000 Iraqi soldiers were said to have surrendered to troops of the United States-led coalition. At dawn Sunday, under skies hazed with the smoke of hundreds of burning oilwells, troops from seven nations carried out the largest land operations since World War II. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers smashed through the first Iraqi defense lines inside Kuwait, their tanks overrunning Iraqi positions. Nations involved in the ground offensive were the US, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France, Egypt, Syria, and Kuwait. Ten hours into the offensive, allied commander Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf broke a news blackout to declare in the Saudi capital of Riyadh: ``The offensive is progressing with dramatic success.'' Coalition casualties were described as ``remarkably light.'' Iraqi troops manning Kuwait's southern border offered little challenge in the first hours of the offensive, prompting predictions that coalition troops could be in Kuwait City by midday Monday. US pilots flying over the battlefield said they were astounded to see dug-in Iraqi defenses crumble on the first day of the war. But there were warnings that the coming stage of the land battle will see heavier casualties. US officials who say, ``The war is not yet over,'' are trying to control a sense of euphoria growing out of early successes in the coalition ground campaign. While swelling numbers of prisoners-of-war suggest that the Iraqi resolve is broken, Iraq's front-line conscript forces were among its weakest. Coalition commanders expect a greater challenge from the elite Republican Guard. In the meantime, the large numbers of Iraqi conscripts putting up the white flag is creating logistical problems for the mobilized coalition force. Although coalition commanders had imposed a news blackout on the battle, reports by military analysts and correspondents indicated that coalition forces are engaged in a four-pronged assault against Iraqi forces; three from land and sea into Kuwait, and one from Saudi Arabia into Iraq. According to French war correspondents and military sources, coalition troops are moving through the desert of southern Iraq toward the northeast, where they are expected to engage the Republican Guard. The coalition troops, deployed on the offensive's western front, are maneuvering to encircle occupation forces in Kuwait. The western front is said to include three forces - US, British, and French - totaling more than 100,000 men. French troops, including Foreign Legionnaires, were said to have advanced 40 miles into Iraqi territory. The troops were reported to have moved almost unchallenged into southern Iraq from Saudi Arabia and continued heading northeast toward the Kuwaiti border and southeastern Iraq. While Western television reports showed long lines of Iraqi prisoners trudging through the desert, the message from Baghdad remained unchanged. From the start of the land battle Iraq kept up a steady stream of emotional broadcasts to its troops, urging what it called the lions of the land to ``crush the head of the snake.'' Patriotic and military songs were interspersed with commentaries to frontline troops. ``Your courage is unmatched anywhere in the world,'' an announcer told fighters. ``America is the leader of evil in the world.... This is your day ... you are the lions of the land and the defenders of the country.'' In an official military communiqu'e, Iraq said it had inflicted heavy casualties on coalition soldiers and destroyed hundreds of their tanks. During the night the Iraqi capital, already battered by weeks of bombing sorties, came under massive coalition air attack. By dawn yesterday, according to Saudi radio reports, the 1st and 2nd divisions of the US Marines had driven deep inside Kuwaiti territory and were preparing to enter Kuwait City. With them were forces from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and, a surprise for many observers, Syria. Although Egypt, with 35,000 troops in the campaign, had earlier said it would take part in the liberation of Kuwait, Syria previously said its 20,000 troops would remain inside Saudi Arabia in a defensive position. The report said the coalition forces were fortifying their positions, suggesting that they were coming under attack. At the same time, along the southeastern flank, a vanguard of US and Arab troops thrust 60 miles north of the Saudi Arabian border after smashing gaping holes through Iraqi minefields and obstacles flung around the occupied emirate. Military sources also reported that US airborne troops had landed on the outskirts of Kuwait City. There were conflicting reports over whether US Marines had gained control of the small Failaka Island at the entrance of Kuwait's harbor. When coalition forces do enter Kuwait City, early reports suggest they will find only ruin. According to senior Kuwait sources, the Kuwaiti parliament and several luxury hotels had been blown up by Iraqi soldiers. Large areas of the city are said to be ablaze. There were also reports of the large-scale killing of Kuwaiti civilians: Some reports said 200 Kuwaitis had been executed and mutilated by the Iraqi forces. -PATHNAME- /usr/local/etc/httpd/plweb/DBGROUPS/paper/database/tape/91/mar/week10/ober.

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