Planes hit Baghdad

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 30, 2003

Associated Press writer

U.S. warplanes attacked Baghdad’s defenders with bombs and strafing fire Saturday in a thunderous prelude to a ground assault. Iraqis inflicted a new danger on the allies – a deadly suicide attack – and threatened to kill Americans on U.S. soil.

Anger, mourning and resolve emanated from both sides in a conflict taking a growing toll each day in the lives of combatants and civilians alike.


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The international outcry grew, too. Pope John Paul II warned of a &uot;religious catastrophe” stirring hatred between Christians and Muslims; Russian President Vladimir Putin also cast the war in catastrophic terms and said he would push for a negotiated solution.

But in Baghdad, Washington and along the war’s many fronts, the talk was all of climactic battles to come.

&uot;We are now fighting the most desperate units of the dictator’s army,” President Bush said.

Three-quarters of the allied airstrikes are now going after Republican Guard forces ringing Baghdad, Air Force Brig. Gen. Daniel Darnell told The Associated Press.

He said U.S. and British planes have attacked almost every military airfield in the country in the last week.

Some units of the invasion force went into an &uot;operational pause” Saturday to consolidate positions, resupply forward troops and prepare for an all-out attack on Iraqi forces outside Baghdad.

There was no rest for pilots taking off from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf.