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Iraq launches missiles into Kuwait

WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Iraqi forces fired missiles at U.S. forces based in Kuwait, Defense Department officials said March 20.

There are no reports of casualties.

U.S. Central Command officials confirmed that Patriot missiles intercepted the rockets. It is unclear if the missiles contained chemical or biological agents, but forces in the area took precautions.

The Iraqi attack follows U.S. air operations launched against targets in and around Baghdad. News reports say the U.S. attacks were part of a "decapitation strategy" aimed at killing senior Iraqi leaders. Media reports indicate Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was the intended target.

U.S. Navy ships and submarines launched Tomahawk cruise missiles at Iraq from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, U.S. Central Command officials said. The ships were the destroyers USS Milius and USS Donald Cook, the cruisers USS Bunker Hill and USS Cowpens and the attack submarines USS Montpelier and USS Cheyenne.

In addition, command officials said a number of aircraft took part in the strikes and all returned safely. They did not detail what types of aircraft or their numbers.

British Defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon told the BBC that the attacks are not the start of the aerial offensive designed to "shock and awe" Iraq. News reports said the strikes came about as a result of intelligence pinpointing the location of Iraqi leaders.

Hoon said the main aerial offensive would begin "soon."

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