THE WEEK IN THE GULF
A summary of the fifth week of the Gulf War: * MONDAY, FEB. 18
Iraq’s foreign minister, Tarik Aziz, met for 3 1/2 hours in Moscow with Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev in a last-ditch effort to avert a full-scale ground war. He headed back to Baghdad with a new peace proposal the Soviets said included a call for an “unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait.”
Two U.S. warships moving north in preparation for a possible Marine invasion struck floating mines in the northern Persian Gulf.
* TUESDAY, FEB. 19:
Iraqi Foreign Minister Aziz relayed to Saddam Hussein a Soviet peace proposal that Moscow hoped would fend off an all-out ground war to oust Iraqi troops from Kuwait.
President Bush rejected the peace proposal, saying there must be no concessions to achieve Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait.
* WEDNESDAY, FEB. 20:
One American soldier was killed and seven others were wounded in a ground engagement, an allied command spokesman said. Somewhere north of the Saudi border, U.S. helicopters attacked an Iraqi bunker complex, the U.S. command said.
* THURSDAY, FEB. 21
Iraq and the Soviet Union agreed on steps that could lead to an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait and an end to the Persian Gulf War, a Kremlin spokesman said. The Kremlin made the announcement after President Gorbachev and Iraqi Foreign Minister Aziz spent more than two hours discussing terms of a Soviet peace plan proposed earlier this week.
* FRIDAY, FEB. 22
President Bush gave Hussein a deadline of noon EST on Saturday to begin withdrawing his forces from Kuwait. The White House said the withdrawal must be completed within one week.
Iraq denounced Bush’s ultimatum as “shameful.”
Hussein “launched a scorched-earth policy against Kuwait” even while Aziz was discussing peace plans in Moscow, Bush said.
* SATURDAY, FEB. 23
At Camp David, Md., Bush expressed regret that Hussein had not moved to withdraw his troops before the noon deadline imposed Friday. Bush’s statement came after a last-minute Soviet initiative collapsed. The first official Iraqi comment after the deadline was that it had been an “aggressive ultimatum.”
Iraqi troops killed civilians at random in Kuwait city, U.S. military officials said, adding that the terror campaign had been stepped up over the past 24 to 48 hours.
As the noon EST (8 p.m. in Baghdad) deadline passed, live television reports from Baghdad showed explosions around the city, and reporters said an air raid was under way.
* SUNDAY, FEB. 24
U.S. forces struck Iraqi troops in a long-awaited land offensive early Sunday (Gulf time). The attack marked the start of the biggest U.S. ground engagement since Vietnam.
In Washington, where it was Saturday night, President Bush told the nation that he had ordered the military to use “all forces available, including ground forces” to eject the Iraqi army.
By day’s end, U.S. paratroopers were reported holding outer edges of Kuwait city. A U.S. military official cautioned that despite the early reports of success, more than a week of tough combat--including street-to-street fighting for Kuwait city--may lie ahead.
Some reporters were with the combat troops in supervised news pools. But Pentagon sources said their reports may be held up for 48 hours.