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March 19

U.S. President George W. Bush announced orders had been made for the coalition attack on Iraq to begin.

March 20

The initial strikes included more than 40 cruise missiles fired from U.S. warships in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

A message broadcast on Iraqi television lead U.S. officials to speculate
whether the speaker was Hussein or a double.

March 21

A U.S. Marine helicopter crashes in Kuwait, killing eight British and four U.S. troops, the first coalition casualties of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Iraq launched an estimated 10 missiles into Kuwait, two of which were intercepted by Patriot missiles.

Officials on Iraqi television reported 72 missiles hit Baghdad, killing five.

An estimated 400,000 Kurds leave their homes to seek refuge in the countryside. The Iraqi government is not allowing anyone in or out.

March 24

U.S. helicopters attacked Iraq’s elite Republican Guard, 60 miles south of Baghdad, in a fight that lasted nearly three hours.

Eight Iraqi missiles were launched against Kuwait, but Patriot missile batteries destroyed six. Two others landed in southern Iraq.

Pentagon officials confirmed two Apache helicopter pilots — David S. Williams of Florida and Ronald D. Young of Georgia — were taken prisoner after their chopper went down in Karbala, about 60 miles southwest of Baghdad.

Iraqi troops falsely indicating their surrender fight coalition troops in civilian clothes.

March 25

U.S. forces killed between 150 to 200 Iraqis in what was estimated to be the biggest firefight of the war.

Marines captured nearly 170 Iraqi soldiers who had been staging military operations at a hospital in Nasiriya. U.S. officials said this move clearly violates the Geneva Convention.

March 26

U.S. Marines battle Iraqi forces for the third consecutive day over control of the city of Nasiriya, located along the key north-south route.

Iraqi military claims two coalition missiles hit a residential area killing at least 12 Iraqi civilians. The Pentagon denied all claims that the United States deliberately hit any residential area.

Seven American Prisoners of War remain in captivity by the Iraqi military.