- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2003

KUWAIT CITY, March 20 (UPI) — The fifth Scud alarm of the day sent Kuwaitis scurrying to their shelters late Thursday as British and American forces rolled across the Iraqi frontier 30 miles to the north and the second Gulf War got under way.

To the eerie wail of sirens, Kuwaitis went to the shelters established in the basements of publics, many of them clutching gas masks and watching nervously the broadcasts from the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information on the status of the Scud attacks.

So far neither chemical nor biological weapons have been detected and the Scuds have so far done no damage, although two are said to have landed and Kuwaiti officials claimed at least two more had been destroyed by Patriot missiles.

The alarms and sirens make it clear that Kuwait City is a war zone, but there is no blackout and the city remains brightly lit. Kuwait civilian airport was still open to flights by Kuwaiti airlines Thursday, although most international carriers had suspended flights.

The center glows with neon and the port is as bright as day under arc lights as troops and dockworkers labor round the clock to get military supplies ashore to feed the vast logistics machine that fuels the attack to the north. The Anglo-American advance needs 15 million gallons of fuel a day to keep going.

As midnight came on Kuwait's first day of war, the sirens wailed yet again, yet again sending children and frightened mothers trailing down endless stairs to the shelters. The elevators are automatically cut when the alarm goes.

"I thought Saddam Hussein told the United Nations he had no more Scuds," said Joan Freeman, a British aid worker, as she went to down to her hotel shelter for the sixth time that day, hauling her personal emergency kit of gas mask, bottled water, radio and flashlight.

Police checkpoints on the major roads remained during the alarms, and the endless convoys of fuel tankers and trucks from the port continued to haul north from the port as the big attack got under way.

Kuwaitis, with bitter personal experience of the Iraqi invasion in 1990 and the subsequent looting and pillage of their city, seem overwhelmingly supportive of the war. The tone was set in a speech to his people by the emir, Sheikh Al-Jaber al-Sabah, in which he said: "Screams coming from those of our people who were tortured, and the wails of the young and old, women and children still echo loud in our ears."

"Arab and Islamic history have not seen oppression like that we were exposed to by our Arab and Islamic neighbor," the sheikh added. "The state of Kuwait is not sounding the drums of war, but rather that war drums are being sounded by a regime that does not learn from its past experiences."

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