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War Tracker: March 21, 2003

• Punishing air attacks rocked the Baghdad night Friday with thunderous explosions that filled the skies with flames and huge clouds of smoke as U.S. aircraft unleased the "shock and awe" A-Day air campaign. The massive Republican Palace complex along the winding Tigris River apparently took the brunt of the first wave. Full Story
• Heavy bombing also hit Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's ancestral home, and shook the northern cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. At least 20 major blasts were heard in the Kirkuk area alone.
• Dozens of U.S. F-14 Tomcat and F/A-18 Hornet fighter planes launched attacks against Iraq from the aircraft carriers USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Harry S. Truman Friday night, according to CNN Correspondent Gary Strieker. 3-D models: F-14 | F/A-18
• U.S. aircraft flying over Iraq dropped more than 2 million leaflets Friday, according to a U.S. military statement. More than half of the leaflets were dropped on Iraqi military forces encouraging them to surrender, the statement said.
• Iraq's Information Minister said airstrikes damaged Baghdad's "Peace Palace," a building used for visiting dignitaries. He said the "Flowers Palace" -- a museum that once was a palace for the king during the days of royal rule -- also was hit.
Audio Slide Show: 'Shock and awe' | Video |premium content
• U.S. forces continued to make gains on the ground. One group of Bradley Fighting Vehicles, M1A1 Abrams battle tanks and other vehicles was heading unimpeded toward Baghdad in what CNN Correspondent Walter Rodgers described as "a huge wave of steel" that stretched for 20 miles. 3D-models: M1A1 tank | Bradley Fighting Vehicle
• Iraq's 51st Army Division -- by some estimates an 8,000-man unit -- surrendered or deserted at Iraq's southern border, Pentagon officials said Friday. Pentagon officials dubbed the surrender the most significant to date. Surrender 101
• A contingent of more than 1,000 Turkish troops began crossing the border into Northern Iraq Friday, CNN Turk television reported. The Turks contend they need troops in northern Iraq to "manage the humanitarian situation" -- partly by keeping Kurdish refugees from crossing over into Turkey.
• Videotape shot by Kuwaiti TV crews Friday showed a group of about a dozen Iraqis warmly welcoming U.S. soldiers who briefly took up positions in the Iraqi village of Safwan. "Long live the soldiers!" one cheered.
Gallery: Photos of the war | Video: Tanks roll across the desert
Audio Slide Show: Riding toward Baghdad
• Two U.S. Marines were killed in action Friday, the first reported U.S. combat casualties in Iraq, according to U.S. military officials.
• Eight British troops and four U.S. troops killed in the crash of a U.S. Marine CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter early Friday in Kuwait.
Killed in Action: List of U.S. casualties
Savidge: Protecting Iraq's oil
McIntyre: 'A-Day' strikes launch
Rodgers: 'A giant wave of steel'
More On the Scene reports


* Approximate number as of 10 p.m. ET Friday.
Source: CNN; Pentagon
Explore U.S. war plans and tactics
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Shepperd: The science of surrender
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U.S. used cruise missiles, Stealth fighters in initial attack
Tomahawk cruise missile | U.S. fighters
More weapons
March 20: Troops push into Iraq
March 19: 'Decapitation attack'

EDITOR'S NOTE: CNN's policy is to not report information that puts operational security at risk.
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