Posted at 5:06 p.m., Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Advertiser News ServicesThe United States launched war against Iraq today. "The opening stages of the disarmament of the Iraqi regime have begun," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.
Bush planned to address the nation at 10:15 p.m. EST, little more than two hours after the deadline the president set for Saddam Hussein to flee his nation or face war.
Fleischer spoke as anti-aircraft fire and explosions were heard across Baghdad after air raid sirens went off at the capital at dawn.
Fleischer did not elaborate on his statement, but U.S. officials said it signaled the beginning of military action against Iraq.
The statement came at the end of an anxious day of waiting at the White House.
Bush scrutinized final battle plans and told Congress why he was poised to launch the largest pre-emptive attack in U.S. history.