Marines roll into Iraq
SOUTHERN IRAQ (CNN) -- The 3rd Squadron of the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, lead element of the 3rd Infantry Division, rolled from Kuwait into southern Iraq early Friday, according to a CNN reporter accompanying the troops.
The Americans encountered hostile Iraqi army troops as they crossed the border, but using advanced night vision equipment they overcame the resistance, destroying six or seven Iraqi trucks and an undisclosed number of tanks.
A group of Kiowa scout helicopters, flying no more than 50 feet above the ground, led a convoy of Bradley fighting vehicles and M1A1 Abrams tanks. The Bradley vehicles moved at times in a single column and at times abreast.
Earlier, when halted in Kuwait close to the Iraqi border, a single shell fell near the U.S. forces. The shell affected no part of the convoy, which then began moving quickly north.
Artillery barrage precedes troops
Meanwhile, U.S. Marines in northern Kuwait used artillery to pound Iraqi positions across the border in southern Iraq with a fierce barrage continuing all night into early Friday.
High-flying bombers and jet fighters could be heard overhead throughout the night.
After U.S. forces cut holes in the berm between Kuwait and Iraq, various units began entering about 8 p.m. (noon ET) Thursday. Among the first were U.S. Marines of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
British troops moved into the Al Faw Peninsula of southern Iraq but had not yet captured the border town of Umm Qasr, a British military spokesman said. Kuwaiti media reported earlier that Umm Qasr had been occupied by advancing allied troops.
The peninsula runs from the Iraqi city of Basra to the Persian Gulf and is home to a significant portion of Iraq's oil industry.
A British official told CNN Iraq launched as many as 10 missiles into Kuwait, but all missed their targets -- some after being intercepted by Patriot missiles. No injuries were reported.
Kuwait said the missiles were Scuds, but U.S. officials said they were Al Samoud 2 missiles or some variant.
Air raid sirens sounded frequently, sending troops in Kuwait into shelters. Officials were concerned Iraq may have launched chemical or biological attacks, but none took place.
Oil wells burning in southern Iraq
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said "as many as three or four" oil wells may be burning on the Iraqi side of the Iraq-Kuwait border. He called it a "crime for that regime to be destroying the riches of the Iraqi people."
A reporter accompanying British forces said his unit was on the move with U.S. troops entering southern Iraq in response to Iraqi artillery fire.
The British had not planned for this unit to go into Iraq until the weekend, but Iraqi forces had begun to threaten four oil facilities in southern Iraq, the reporter said, adding that "British guns have been fired."
U.S. sources said a Special Forces helicopter crashed late Wednesday in Iraq's southern no-fly zone before the initial attack on Baghdad.
All personnel were rescued safely and the wreckage was destroyed in U.S. airstrikes to prevent its high-tech equipment from falling into Iraqi hands.
U.S. officials said Thursday more Iraqi soldiers have surrendered, in addition to the 17 who surrendered Wednesday, but they characterized the number as very small.
Officials said the defectors provided limited information, and there was no indication they could lead troops to potential stashes of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
The United States continued broadcasting to Iraqis via radio frequencies, encouraging Iraqi troops to lay down weapons.
CNN's Walter Rodgers with the 3rd Squadron of the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment contributed to this story.
EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This report was written in accordance with Pentagon ground rules allowing so-called embedded reporting, in which journalists join deployed troops. Among the rules accepted by all participating news organizations is an agreement not to disclose sensitive operational details.