Allied forces launched a broad multipronged assault on Iraqi forces early Sunday in the first hours of an assault to end the occupation of Kuwait, news reports and military sources said.
As part of the offensive, the allies were engaged in a complicated series of diversionary tactics and feigned assaults to deceive Iraqi commanders, the defense correspondent for Britain's Press Association reported.Upon announcing the offensive that began early Sunday, Washington declined to give any specifics of the operation to avoid tipping off the Iraqis, so details were sketchy and could not be independently confirmed.
CBS correspondent Bob McKeown said he was about a mile from the Kuwait-Saudi border when the ground war began.
"We could hear the booms" of the U.S. bombing. "The ground rumbles every time a bomb falls in Kuwait, a mile from us, or one of the warships fires one of its big 16-inch guns."
At 8 a.m. in Saudi Arabia (10 p.m. Saturday MST) he said a column of tanks moving in from the west, and that about an hour later, "there was bombardment from every direction."
Several fronts were opened up in the first hours of the offensive, as allied commanders had predicted, reports said.
Press Association said the U.S. 2nd Marine Division and 18th Airborne Corps stormed over the border into eastern Kuwait. To the west, the U.S. Army moved into Iraq in a much-heralded flanking operation, it said.
The British 1st Armoured Division was pushing across the Saudi border into Iraq well to the west of Kuwait, Press Associatiod. The British Defense Ministry declined comment.
Arab military sources in Riyadh, speaking on condition they not be identified, said the coalition forces struck along four axes.
The sources said the forces struck at three points along the Saudi-Kuwait borders including the sea. A fourth axis from the Iraq-Saudi border spread out in three directions, they said.
"We will not be confirming any operational details," said a U.S. military spokesman in Riyadh.
Thousands of French Foreign Legionnaires and other French forces punched at least 12 miles into Iraq early Sunday and met little resistance, a Western military source said.
"The progression of our forces is entirely according to plan," the source said. "Resistance is much lighter than we expected."
The source has been reliable for military reports in the past. His story could not be confirmed because of a blackout imposed by U.S. and other allied military commanders.
The source said he had no reports of resistance from Iraqi tanks or infantry.
Four hours after the allied ground attack began, French forces were at least 12 miles inside Iraq and continued to penetrate, he said.