The allies pressed on with the air war Thursday but focused on supply lines and troop concentrations.
Iraq fired a Scud missile on the northern Saudi city of Hafr al-Batin Thursday, but the missile was foiled by a Patriot missile interceptor. An allied "Scud patrol" also reported possible hits on three more Scud launchers. Some damage and minor injuries were reported in Hafr al-Batin from falling debris.Also Thursday, two American airmen were killed in the crash of a U.S. EF-111A electronic jamming and radar-detection jet, the Air Force said. It was the 27th U.S. warplane lost in the war.
Officials said Wednesday night's raids were considerably less intense than those of the previous night and targeted mainly the downtown telecommunications center, inflicting damage to nearby houses and business centers.
The issue of civilian casualties was expected to be raised at a closed-door meeting of the U.N. Security Council later Thursday morning.
A military communique on Baghdad radio Thursday said more than 130 new allied raids had been carried out against civilian areas, including religious sites.
In an AWACS surveillance plane high over Saudi Arabia, the Air Force directed dozens of air strikes and combat air patrols over Iraq and occupied Kuwait Thursday. One mission was by B-52 Stratofortresses that bombed a missile assembly and repair facility near the Iraqi city of Taji.
Other targets included troops and artillery along the Kuwaiti coastline, the key Iraqi supply-line city of Basra and depots in Kuwait. Wave after wave of Air Force A-10s, Navy A-6s, and other aircraft went after Iraqi ground forces.
"Punishment, pure and simple punishment," said Maj. Clark Speicher, the mission control commander for the AWACS flight.
Not one Iraqi aircraft was detected airborne during the night.
On Thursday, for the first time, daytime air-raid alerts were sounded in the Saudi capital of Riyadh and in neighboring Bahrain. Sirens also sounded in Dhahran, site of a large allied air base.
The allies have been trying since the start of the war to knock out Iraq's mobile missile launchers, which it has used to fire more than 60 modified Scuds at Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Along the desert front in northern Saudi Arabia, coalition forces fired artillery barrages overnight, and there was heavy allied air bombardment of Iraqipositions before dawn Thursday.
The bombing was taking its toll on the Iraqi troops. Egyptian army officials said the largest group of Iraqi deserters to date - 22 - walked across the border and surrendered early Thursday.
Elsewhere, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev met Thursday with Kuwait's foreign minister, telling reporters beforehand: "The time is such that we have something to discuss."
Iraq's foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, is to visit Moscow on Sunday and meet with Gorbachev in the first visit by such a high-ranking Iraqi official since the war began. The visit follows a mission to Baghdad this week by Gorbachev's envoy, Yevgeny Primakov.
Saddam was reported to have told Primakov that Iraq was ready to cooperate with the Soviets in their efforts to reach a settlement. But there was no mention of relinquishing Kuwait - the principal allied demand.
When he returned to Moscow on Wednesday night, Primakov refused to discuss his talks with Saddam.
"I don't want to jeopardize the process," he told reporters.
Thursday's Security Council debate at the United Nations was to be its first formal session held in private since a November 1975 debate on the Western Sahara. The council voted Wednesday to hold the session in private.
The United States said an open meeting could give Saddam the impression the coalition was divided and retreating from its demand for Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. It also said an open debate could be used as Iraqi propaganda.