Complete text of Bush address on A2.Guns fell silent in the Persian Gulf Thursday after President Bush declared an end to offensive strikes in the war - as long as Iraq meets certain conditions.
The U.S. cease-fire began at midnight EST - with Iraq formally accepting at 3 a.m. when it sent a letter to the United Nations agreeing to comply with all U.N. resolutions about the war. The U.N. Security Council planned to meet later Thursday to review it and draw up paperwork to formally end the war.In radio broadcasts in Baghdad, however, Iraq still insisted it was not defeated. Meanwhile, pool reporters and Pentagon officials said the cease-fire was apparently holding Thursday, although fierce fighting and bombing raids continued up to the midnight deadline and some sporadic shelling occurred afterward.
All of which means the war that began just 43 days ago has effectively come to an end. It also comes only five days after the land war blitzed across the desert to free Kuwait. At least 126 allied troops were killed in fighting, including 79 Americans.
"Kuwait is liberated. Iraq's army is defeated," Bush said as he began a speech to the nation at 7:02 MST Wednesday evening. (NBC and CBS missed the opening words, switching too slowly from anchormen in the Middle East.)
Bush said it is up to Iraq to decide whether the cease-fire he ordered becomes a permanent end of the war. He also listed several conditions. (See box on A2.)
Bush warned that "if Iraq violates these terms, coalition forces will be free to resume military operations."While Bush said now is not a time for euphoria, he took some time to express pride about the war's apparent end - which came exactly 100 hours after the ground war was launched.
"Seven months ago, America and the world drew a line in the sand. We declared that the aggression against Kuwait would not stand. And tonight America and the world have kept their word," he said.
"Kuwait is once more in the hands of the Kuwaitis. We share in their joy, a joy tempered only by our compassion for their ordeal."
Bush also again seemed to hint he hopes Iraq will oust Saddam.
"At every opportunity I have said to the people of Iraq that our quarrel was not with them, but instead with their leadership, and above all with Saddam Hussein," he said.
He added that the coalition has thought much about postwar steps needed to ensure peace and will now start to implement them - although he did not elaborate. He said Secretary of State James Baker will go to the region next week to begin a new round of consultations.
Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said that while Saddam promised "the mother of all battles" in the war, "it turned into the mother of all retreats." Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, coalition forces commander, added that Iraq did not give its troops water or food and in the end kept them from leaving only at the point of a gun.
Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Richard Neal, deputy director of operations for the U.S. Central Command in Riyadh, said Thursday there were reports of isolated incidents, most apparently because the bombing of Iraqi communications lines may have left some units unaware that hostilities had ended.
He said the allies "continue to conduct those actions that are necessary for the safety and security of our forces," but he noted that all 42 of Iraq's military divisions in the theater have been destroyed or rendered ineffective and stragglers amounted to perhaps one division in number.
Neal cited an incident in which enemy troops attacked U.S. troops trying to recover bodies from a downed American helicopter 4 1/2 hours after the allied offensive ended. U.S. forces fired on the Iraqis, destroying two top-of-the-line enemy T-52 tanks and two multiple rocket launchers.
While allied casualties in the war were described as extremely light, The Washington Post quoted Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, as saying Iraqi war dead may reach 85,000 to 100,000. Schwarzkopf told reporters the true toll may never be known.
Officials also estimate at least 80,000 Iraqi troops were taken prisoner. Some even surrendered to reporters, and one group of 40 Iraqis also tried to surrender to a pilotless Marine drone reconnaissance air-craft.
U.S. officials estimate the numbers of Kuwaiti detainees, third-country nationals and prisoners of war could reach 40,000.