The United States and its allies followed up devastating pre-dawn air strikes with daylong attacks Thursday in a furious bid to drive Saddam Hussein's armies from Kuwait.
American military officials said the Iraqis offered minimal resistance and that U.S. fighter-bombers would keep pounding away to prevent Saddam from marshaling his forces.Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said at a morning Pentagon briefing that one U.S. and one British aircraft had been lost.
The American plane was an F-18 Hornet fighter-bomber. Cheney said the pilot was the first American combat death in Operation Desert Storm.
Britain said one of its Tornado fighter-bombers was lost, with its two crewmen missing. France said four of its planes were hit and one pilot wounded.
Baghdad radio said that Iraqi anti-aircraft units shot down 14 attacking warplanes, but several American officials called the claim an exaggeration.
U.S. and Saudi military officials in Saudi Arabia said ground forces were moving north and had taken up positions closer to the Kuwaiti border. It was not clear whether the movement was in preparation for an offensive. In Washington, Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would not confirm or deny reports of movement of ground troops.
The only reported Iraqi offensive strike appeared to have been an artillery attack that set three oil tanks ablaze in northern Saudi Arabia, with no injuries reported.
France's armed forces chief said Thursday that Iraq is no longer in a position to launch a serious chemical attack on allied forces because air attacks have neutralized launching sites for such arms.
Gen. Maurice Schmitt said launch sites for chemical weapons were among the first targets of the allied attack Wednesday night and Thursday.
Iraq "is not now in a position to send serious chemical strikes, whether it be on Saudi Arabia or Israel," he said in a radio interview. "The risk is not non-existent . . . but I don't believe much chance for doing so remains."
Earlier Thursday, France's defense minister said that 20 Iraqi warplanes managed to get off the ground during allied bombing attacks.
Meanwhile, Turkey's Parliament Thursday authorized the use of Turkey's military bases for attacks on Iraq by the U.S.-led multinational forces.
The Warpowers Resolution passed by a vote of 250 to 148, with 52 abstentions. All five opposition parties voted against the measure, but passage was assured given the support of the governing Motherland Party.
Under a limited permission granted by Parliament in September, the government allowed NATO and U.S. military aircraft to be deployed in Turkey.
Thursday's development is important because it could allow the United States and its allies to open a second front in their war with Iraq.