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Initial strikes meant to rattle Iraqi troops

'Shock and awe' phase on hold

U.S. warships launched cruise missiles at Baghdad Thursday

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As explosions rattled Baghdad for a second consecutive night, U.S. officials said these strikes were part of a psychological warfare campaign to ratchet up the tension among Iraq troops and their high command ahead of the main bombardment.

About 20 cruise missiles were fired in the most recent airstrikes, officials said. Two British submarines fired missiles for the first time in this conflict, and officials said U.S. Navy ships and submarines in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf also took part.

In all, more than 60 cruise missiles have been fired at targets in and around Baghdad since U.S.-led hostilities began, officials told CNN.

Officials said the strikes were meant to send a message to those in Iraqi uniforms: To make them think that U.S. planes are coming after them each and every night.

The strikes began early Thursday morning with cruise missiles and "bunker buster" bombs raining on a leadership compound where Saddam Hussein and his two sons, Uday and Qusay, may have been.

Officials said they believe Saddam escaped the attack, but some of his "senior leadership" might have been killed, perhaps as they slept.

Officials said the residential compound was occupied by "very, very senior Republican Guard leaders, intelligence leaders and senior Ba'ath party leaders."

One official told CNN the Iraqi officials at the compound had "turned in for the night" when the U.S. strike took place.

The Pentagon was assessing that air strike and others to see how much of a grip Saddam still has on power, officials said.

Another part of the psyops (psychological operations) campaign, officials said, is for the Iraqi leadership to realize that should full-blown war soon erupt, they don't stand a chance of winning against the United States.

Pentagon sources said the "shock and awe" phase of the U.S. campaign has been put on hold while the military assesses the state of the Iraqi leadership following the initial bombings.

Asked when it would be clear that the "shock and awe" campaign was under way, one Pentagon official said, "You'll know it when you see it."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters that the "days of the Saddam Hussein regime are numbered."

"What will follow will not be a repeat of any other conflict," Rumsfeld said. "It will be of a force and scope and scale that has been beyond what has been seen before."

A senior administration official familiar with national security issues told CNN "things are unfolding," but said major developments "might be a day or so away."

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

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