• In the battlezone • Iraq interactive library • Targets in Iraq • Target Baghdad • Urban warfare • Allied deployments • Tools of warfare • Scuds and Arrows • World Reax • NBC: Video reports from the field • Complete coverage: Conflict with Iraq THE RESPONSE HAD a familiar ring, echoing the long debate over whether war with Iraq was justified. Leaders worried and lamented, protesters condemned and demonstrated, friends of the United States proclaimed that it was ugly but sadly necessary. There was just one key difference Thursday: This time, military action in Iraq wasn’t just a possibility. It was becoming real. Muslim leaders in Asia condemned the U.S. attack and said Americans would pay. A response from the 30-million-strong moderate Muhammadiyah Muslim group in Indonesia came within minutes of the United States and Britain launching attacks on Iraq. “This is not an attack on Islam but an attack on humanity,” said Syafii Maarif, head of the organization. Latest on the military moves Deputy Malaysian Defense Minister Shafie Apdal told Reuters in Parliament that he feared reprisals by Iraqi sympathizers in other countries. Murid Timasaen, spokesman for Thailand’s Muslims for Peace Group, said Americans would never live in peace again. “They have attracted more enemies than ever, not only from the Muslim world, but also from the Buddhist community,” he said. “Countries like Iraq don’t have the capacity to fight the Americans in a conventional war, so more terrorist means will be deployed against the Americans.” JAPAN, PHILIPPINES BACK ATTACK Two Asian countries that have been supportive of the U.S. tough position on Iraq stepped in to reiterate their support. Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said Manila was giving political and moral support for actions to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. “The Philippines is part of the coalition of the willing” Arroyo said in a speech to graduates of the Philippine Military Academy. “We are giving political and moral support for actions to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.” • Complete MSNBC coverage • Latest military developments • Kurds fleeing, again • Q &amp;A with Peter Arnett • Top defector disappears • Video coverage from NBC • Blog: Army family's journal • Encarta: Detailed Iraq map • WashPost: Special coverage Latest from Newsweek • Zakaria: Arrogant empire • Waiting with the troops Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, putting a security alliance with the United States ahead of public opinion, reiterated his moral support for Washington on Thursday after the start of a U.S.-led attack on Iraq. “At this time... I understand, and I support the start of the use of force by the United States,” Koizumi told a news conference about an hour after Bush announced the start of the attack. Japanese troops, however, will not be fighting alongside U.S. forces. Japan’s postwar, pacifist constitution renounces war as a means of settling international disputes. • Daily updates on Iraq action Thailand said it wanted no part in the war. “But we are ready to help rehabilitate (Iraq) after the fighting, up to the extent of our resources,” Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said. “At this stage, we hope the war casualties will be confined only to military targets and not on civilians.” China said the action against Iraq was “violating the norms of international behavior.” Germany expressed “great concern and consternation” that its anti-war diplomacy with France and Russia had failed; it immediately turned attention to the aftermath — and offered help dealing with the humanitarian consequences. “Soon the United States will have to reap the fruits of what they are doing now, and the fruits won’t be sweet,” Russian legislator Vladimir Lukin, a former ambassador to Washington, told Russia’s state-controlled ORT television. • Deployments&nbsp;<br>
CONDEMNATION FROM IRAN Iran, Iraq’s neighbor and longtime enemy, issued immediate condemnation, calling the U.S. action “unjustifiable and illegitimate.” Neutral Finland weighed in, too, with President Tarja Halonen calling military force outside the U.N. Security Council “not acceptable.” “The ongoing war must not result in the marginalization of the United Nations,” she said. The United States and close ally Britain on Monday gave up trying to win the backing of the U.N. Security Council for a new resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq, arguing that they already were within their rights to launch an invasion. In November, the Security Council had voted unanimously for a tough resolution that called on Iraq to disarm or face “serious consequences.” Several months of weapons inspections, however, were inconclusive, and key members of the council stood resolutely opposed to military action.&nbsp;<br>
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Middle East - AP&nbsp;<br>
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Bush's Deadline Passes Unheeded in Iraq 31 minutes ago By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent President Bush (news - web sites)'s deadline for Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) to surrender power passed unheeded Wednesday night, and war against Iraq (news - web sites) appeared inevitable. An American-led invasion force of 300,000 troops awaited the order to strike. AP Photo AP Photo Slideshow: Iraq and Saddam Hussein Baghdad Residents Brace for Impending War (AP Video) Latest news: · France, Others: Attack on Iraq Illegal AP - 18 minutes ago · Baghdad Streets Empty As Deadline Passes AP - 43 minutes ago · Air Force: U.S. Assault Will Stun Iraqis AP - 2 hours, 37 minutes ago Special Coverage U.S. and British forces massed in the Kuwaiti desert close to the Iraqi border, giant B-52 warplanes were loaded with bombs and Tomahawk missile-carrying ships were in position, all awaiting an attack order from Bush. The deadline came at 8 p.m. EST, which was 4 a.m. Thursday in Baghdad, its population shrunken in recent days by an exodus of thousands of fearful residents. "The disarmament of the Iraqi regime will begin at a time of the president's choosing," said his press secretary, Ari Fleischer (news - web sites), moments after 8 p.m. "The American people are ready for the disarmament of Saddam Hussein. They understand what's at stake. The military is ready, the nation is ready and the cause is just." Just after the deadline, White House chief of staff Andrew Card informed the president that intelligence officials had no information that Saddam had left Iraq. Saddam's regime gave every appearance of digging in. In the minutes after the deadline, Iraqi TV showed footage of a pro-Saddam march Tuesday in Baghdad, with members of the crowd chanting pro-Saddam slogans, some brandishing rifles and carrying pictures of Saddam. "We are dedicated to martyrdom in defense of Iraq under your leadership," a loyal Iraqi parliament assured the Iraqi dictator, and armed members of the ruling Baath party deployed behind hundreds of sandbagged defensive positions in Baghdad. Even so, 17 Iraqi soldiers surrendered to American GIs during the day, eager to give up before the shooting started. Bush met periodically throughout the day with his top aides at the White House and sent formal notice to Congress that reliance on "further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone" would not suffice to counter "the continuing threat posed by Iraq." Fleischer, said the nation "ought to be prepared for the loss" of American lives once the military effort begins to depose Saddam and recover weapons of mass destruction. Aides said the commander in chief would decide on timing based on the advice of his military commanders. More than 25 protesters were arrested outside the White House, part of a larger group of demonstrators that chanted, banged drums and carried signs that read, "Stop the War on Iraq." It seemed unlikely in the extreme. Along with the U.S.-led force approaching 300,000 troops massed in the Persian Gulf region were 1,000 combat aircraft and five aircraft carrier battle groups. The United States claims the public and private support of 45 other nations in a coalition to topple Saddam. But only Britain, with about 40,000 troops, was making a sizable contribution to the military force. In a run-up to war, U.S. aircraft also dropped nearly 2 million leaflets over southern Iraq with a variety of messages, including, for the first time, instructions to Iraqi troops on how to capitulate to avoid being killed. Hundreds of miles away, at an air base in England, crews loaded bombs aboard giant B-52 combat aircraft. Apart from the desire to capture weapons of mass destruction, Bush's submission to Congress said a military attack could lead to the discovery of information that would allow the apprehension of terrorists living in the United States. An attack, it said, "is a vital part of the international war on terrorism." Despite deep divisions at the United Nations (news - web sites), Bush also claimed "the authority — indeed, given the dangers involved, the duty — to use force against Iraq to protect the security of the American people and to compel compliance with United Nations resolutions." The diplomatic wheels turned still at the United Nations where foreign ministers were meeting in the Security Council at the request of the French and Germans, prominent critics of the American military operation. "This is a sad day for the United Nations," said the organization's secretary general, Kofi Annan (news - web sites) said. "I know that millions of people around the world share this sense of disappointment and are deeply alarmed." Bush abandoned diplomacy on Monday, and administration officials blamed French intransigence for the lack of consensus on a new Security Council resolution that would have given Saddam an ultimatum. The signs of imminent conflict were abundant. Israel ordered its citizens to start carrying their gas masks to work and to school. And hundreds of Israeli residents fled Tel Aviv, fearful that Iraq would launch missiles against their seaside city, as happened in the 1991 Persian Gulf War (news - web sites). Royal Jordanian — the only commercial airline with regularly scheduled flights to Baghdad — said it was canceling them in anticipation of war. And Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (news - web sites) offered a dual-edged analysis. He blamed Iraq for the approaching military conflict. But he also said he hoped that "different international forces will realize the dangerous repercussions of any military action on the safety and stability of the Middle East region." Another country in the region, Bahrain, publicly offered exile to Saddam "in a dignified manner that should not be seen as undermining Iraq's position and capabilities." "It's the last-hour chance and we hope that Iraq will accept this offer to avoid war," Information Minister Nabil al-Hamer told The Associated Press. Exile for the Iraqi leader "is absolutely unthinkable," said Saadoon Hammadi, speaker of Iraq's parliament. "He will be in front of everyone. He will fight and guide our country to victory." 'Defining moment' dawns on America By Rick Hampson USA TODAY On a day when Americans should have been waiting for spring, they waited for war. As President Bush's deadline for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ticked closer, Tuesday rituals -- weekly play dates and poker games, Bible study and baseball practice -- went on. Meanwhile, a page in history was about to turn. Eddie Hannigan, 73, spent the morning attaching American flags to the white wooden fence lining his driveway off a country road in Fallbrook, Calif. His wife was out buying yellow ribbons to tie to the flagpole. ''Woke up this morning and the wife said, 'I think we should put out the flag,' '' said Hannigan, who fought in the 1950-53 Korean War. ''It's a private driveway. No one can stop me. But the neighbors all thought it was a good idea. I don't like war, but I support our troops.'' People were reminded of the lull after another presidential ultimatum on Iraq a dozen years ago. But this time they knew, through painful experience, that war isn't something that always happens somewhere else. ''This seems more real than the first Gulf War,'' said Mary Clark, 52, a New York state employee who was passing Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. ''It was like watching a movie. It's still just as far away, but now we have threats on our own soil. It feels like part of the battlefield, for this war is going to be here at home.'' On the other side of the continent, a man fishing in the choppy Pacific off Oceanside, Calif., agreed. ''I feel absolutely certain that we will suffer destruction from terrorist attacks,'' said Les Hite, 61, an avocado grower. ''I hope we don't look back on this day and say that's when we could have done things differently.'' To many, the country seemed to have set off on a road with no turning back. Mike Lance, 24, a New York marketing assistant, called it ''a defining moment.'' Some embraced it. Parents and teachers from the Heights Christian School in Los Angeles said they gave no thought to canceling a school trip to Washington, D.C. ''It's great,'' said Carolyn Litchfield, as she toured the Capitol. ''We're here in the middle of history.'' After months of waiting, some people said battle would come as a relief. ''Let's just get this war over with already,'' Clark said. ''I'm so frustrated about how we keep hanging on edge about this.'' In Marion, Ind., Nanette Weesner tied the 32nd yellow ribbon -- one for every day her son has been stationed with the Army in the Persian Gulf -- on the staircase in her apartment. She said she hopes that whatever happens, ''it'll happen fast, and the troops come home.'' In Hinesville, Ga., location of Fort Stewart, one resident said the civilians in town are almost eager for war. ''They want to get it on and get it over with,'' said Marion Adams, 56, ''because it's messing up their business.'' Bob Dickinson, president of Carnival Cruise Lines, said Bush's speech actually helped travelers make plans. ''It's been a kind of limbo we've been in the last couple months. Now people who have delayed making travel plans can get back to normal,'' Dickinson said. Meanwhile, Americans stocked up on emergency supplies, lit votive candles and gave blood. A few took to the streets on Tuesday in protest and in support of attacking Iraq -- mothers of soldiers wearing yellow ribbons and mothers against war wearing pink ones. To some, it felt like a rerun of 1991: the international antagonists, the internal divisions, the economic worries, the concern about terrorism, the signs saying ''No Blood for Oil.'' But there were differences. This time, fast-food deliveries already have been banned at the New York Stock Exchange. The airport metal detectors already have been fine-tuned. Office workers already are wearing their ID badges. This time, Mr. Rogers will not be around to record messages to reassure children. Some voices from around the nation: * A truck stop in Racine, Wis. Rich Reis, 44, a trucker from Hanover Park, Ill., said he has had doubts for weeks about the war. He's a Navy veteran with two sons who also served in the military. Reis' son-in-law is on a Navy vessel with 600 Marines in the Gulf. He has been there for months and has never seen his second son, who was born in December. Reis still isn't sure Iraq poses any serious threat beyond the missiles it has destroyed. He hasn't seen what he calls ''hard-core'' proof. ''Give me something to grab a hold of if you are going to put my sons' lives on the line,'' he said. But Reis also thinks it's too late too argue: ''We can't wait any more. My feeling, if we go to war -- when we go to war --is win it. Win. Don't play. Win.'' * A coffee house in Denver A storm that dumped about 3 feet of snow made the war the No. 2 news story on Denver TV. ''It's all about the snow,'' said Reb Ryan, manager and co-owner of Buzz Fill 'Er Up Cafe. ''People here right now are focused on getting through this storm.'' She closed her business at mid-morning for lack of business. Those who did drop in talked about war. ''Sixty percent are saying, 'This is crazy. I can't believe we're doing this,' '' Ryan said. ''But I have quite a few cops who come through, and they're all gung-ho for it.'' In the days before the storm, she noticed a drop-off in sales of lattes, cappuccinos and espressos. ''I think people are not looking for luxuries,'' she said. By the time the president went on TV, ''people were all on edge. They didn't want to hang out here. They wanted to go somewhere so they could watch the news.'' * A terminal at LAX The tension was palpable in the Delta Air Lines baggage claim area at Los Angeles International Airport. ''Now that it's here, I fear that the end of the world is here,'' said Joanne Drake, 68, who was arriving home from a trip to Orlando with her daughter and grandchildren. ''We're all going to be in danger from biological and chemical weapons. I'm very fearful, but I don't think we have any other choice. We can't let Saddam keep going and going.'' ''I'm afraid of everything,'' said Mandy Park, 30, a health care worker visiting from Canada with her gray tomcat. But if Saddam is ''feeding into terrorism,'' she said, ''he has to be taken care of.'' * An anti-war group in St. Louis For Woody Powell, 70, it was a day to mourn for peace and prepare for war. The executive director of Veterans for Peace fielded phone calls and e-mails while helping to organize a demonstration in Washington on Saturday. When the war begins, he said, he'll head to a military recruiting station in St. Louis to try to talk young people out of signing up. Powell said he had enlisted in the Air Force during the Korean War, ''full of patriotic fervor and the urge to prove myself as a man, and full of all the fears of inadequacy.'' ''The experience of war is not a natural one for human beings, and it does unnatural things to their psyches,'' he said. ''There are other ways to prove yourself as a human being.''&nbsp;<br>
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* A sidewalk near Ground Zero There was optimism. ''It will not be bloody,'' predicted Stephanie Baker, 36, a customer service manager from Boston. And there was pessimism. ''Gas prices will go up. Stock prices will go down,'' said Allison Vanderbrul, 21, an undergraduate at the State University of New York-New Paltz. ''People will be afraid to invest. International relations with the U.S. will get worse. International investors won't invest. It's not going to bounce back quickly.'' Alex Woods, 21, a University of Arizona undergraduate from Tucson, said it was all beyond him. ''Basically, I don't really know what's going on,'' he said. ''I hope our leaders know more than we do. I'm hoping they are making the right decisions.''&nbsp;<br>
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