Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Sun Aug 11 12:26:32 MDT 2002

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, August 11, 2002 11:24 AM

> Note: Debka is a pro-Israeli, anti-Palestinian organization
> located in Israel.
>              Turkey Seizes Critical Bamerni Airport in  North Iraq -
Hurriyet Strategic Airfield Now Occupied by Turkish 5,000-Strong Force
>                    With US Special Forces Troops
>         Seizure Assures US-Led Forces Control of Skies over
>             Big Northern Iraq Oil Cities: Mosul, Kirkuk
>    US Iraq Campaign Has Its First Engagement
>    DEBKAfileSpecial Military Analysis
>    10 August:  America's offensive against Saddam Hussein's
>    regime in Iraq has begun as an exercise in gradualism rather
>    than a D-Day drama. DEBKAfile 's military sources report that
>    tens of thousands of US, British, French, Netherlands,
>    Australian troops may take part in the campaign, openly or
>    covertly, but not in massive waves that fling themselves
>    telegenically on Baghdad.
>    The fact of the matter is that American military
>    concentrations are already unobtrusively present in northern
>    and southern Iraq. The US campaign to oust Saddam is
>    therefore unfolding already, albeit in salami-fashion, slice
>    by slice, under clouds of disinformation and diversionary
>    ruses - like the latest statements by President George W.
>    Bush (No date set yet for the offensive) and British premier
>    Tony Blair (Plenty of time before the war begins), or the
>    grave reservations issuing from the Russian, French and
>    German leaders. The peasoup of deception is further thickened
>    by utterances in the last 48 hours from Turkish prime
>    minister Bulent Ecevit, King Abdullah of Jordan, President
>    Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and the Saudi crown prince Abdullah.
>    They warn Washington that attacking Iraq would be a terrible
>    mistake, one which they want no part of.
>    DEBKAfile's military sources attempt here to pierce some of
>    the thickets of confusion with a few facts on the ground:
>    A.  Special US forces entered the Kurdish regions of north
>    Iraq towards the end of March nearly four months ago, to set
>    up local Kurdish militias and train them for battle.
>    B. At around the same time, Turkish special forces went into
>    northern Iraq in waves that continued through April, fetching
>    up in Turkmen regions around the big oil towns of Mosul and
>    Kirkuk.
>    C.  Meanwhile, the Americans threw a ring of bases - using
>    existing facilities and adding new ones  - around Iraq. They
>    have since been pouring into those bases US armored ground
>    units, tanks, air, navy and missile forces, as well as combat
>    medical units and special contingents for anti-nuclear,
>    biological and chemical warfare. According to our sources,
>    the noose around Iraq extends from Georgia and Turkey in the
>    north, Israel, Egypt and Jordan to the west, Eritrea and
>    Kenya in the southwest, and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar
>    and Bahrain to the south.
>    Furthermore, a large US armada, including aircraft carriers,
>    has assembled at three points: the eastern Mediterranean, the
>    Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.
>    D.  Since June, American and Turkish construction engineers
>    have been working in northern Iraq, building and expanding
>    airfields and air strips to make them fit for military use.
>    (Details of this operation appear in an earlier report on
>    this page.)
>    First US Military Steps
>    In the past week, once those preparations were in place, the
>    United States carried out two military operations:
>    1.  Tuesday August 6, at 0800 hours Middle East time, US and
>    British air bombers went into action and destroyed the Iraqi
>    air command and control center at al-Nukhaib in the desert
>    between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The center contained advanced
>    fiber optic networks recently installed by Chinese companies.
>    DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military sources say the raid made
>    military history. For the first time, the US air force used
>    new precision-guided bombs capable of locating and destroying
>    fiber optic systems. The existence of such weaponry was
>    hitherto unknown.
>    Following the destruction of the facility, about 260 miles
>    (415 kilometers), southwest of Baghdad, waves of US warplanes
>    swept in from the Prince Sultan air base in Saudi Arabia and
>    from US aircraft carriers in the Gulf and flew over the Iraqi
>    capital.
>    The Iraqi air force and anti-aircraft system held their fire
>    on orders from above. This deep air penetration told the
>    Americans that the early warning radar system protecting
>    Baghdad and its environs from intrusion by enemy aircraft and
>    missiles was inactive.
>    2.  Two days later, on Wednesday night, August 8, Turkey
>    executed its first major military assault inside Iraq.
>    DEBKAfile's military sources learn from Turkish and Kurdish
>    informants that helicopters under US, British and Turkish
>    warplane escort flew Turkish commandos to an operation for
>    seizing the critical Bamerni airport in northern Iraq. This
>    airport, just outside the Kurdish region, lies 50 miles north
>    of the big Iraqi oil cities of the north, Kirkuk and Mosul.
>    With the Turkish commandos was a group of US special forces
>    officers and men. Bamerni airport was captured after a brief
>    battle in which a unit of Iraqi armored defenders was
>    destroyed, opening the airport for giant American and Turkish
>    transports to deliver engineering units, heavy machinery and
>    electronic support equipment, which were put to work at once
>    on enlarging the field and widening its landing strips.
>    The American unit, reinforced, went on to capture two small
>    Iraqi military airfields nearby.
>    The Turkish expeditionary force in northern Iraq now numbers
>    some 5,000 men, in addition to Turkish air force contingents.
>    DEBKAfile's military experts explain that with Bamerni
>    airport and the two additional airfields  the Americans have
>    acquired full control of the skies over the two oil cities of
>    Mosul and Kirkuk, as well as over the Syrian-Iraqi railroad,
>    which they can now cut off by aerial bombardment. A prime
>    strategic asset, this railroad is Saddam's back door for
>    taking delivery of his illegal overseas arms purchases, which
>    are ferried from Syrian ports to Baghdad by the Syrian-Iraqi
>    railway. On the return journey, the same railway carries
>    illegal Iraqi oil exports, over and above the quantities
>    allowed under UN sanctions, out to market. The Iraqi war
>    effort and the Syrian treasury depend heavily on the revenues
>    accruing from these smuggled oil sales.
>    The battle over this airfield was in fact the first important
>    face-to-face engagement between a US-led invasion force and
>    Iraqi troops. It was carried out seven hours before the Iraqi
>    ruler delivered his televised speech to the nation, on the
>    14th anniversary of the bloody eight-year Iraq-Iran war. In
>    that speech, Saddam threatened American troops going to war
>    against Iraq that they would return home in coffins.
>    Next Steps

>    Just before the Saddam address, US spy satellites and planes
>    detected unusual movements by elite Republic Guard units in
>    the capital. They appeared to be digging positions below
>    ground on the banks of the Tigris. Some military commentators
>    were convinced the Iraqi ruler had decided to bury himself
>    and his key associates in fortified bunker-type positions. He
>    was said to be counting on American reluctance to engage in
>    urban warfare in Iraqi towns for fear of
>    large-scale-casualties that would force them to withdraw.
>    DEBKAfile's military experts see little sign of this tactic -
>    aside from the initial report. In fact, the bulk of the Iraqi
>    army is concentrated in three regions outside Baghdad - the
>    Kurdish regions of the north, the H-3 and al Baghdadi air
>    bases opposite the Jordanian border in the center, and along
>    the Saudi and Kuwaiti frontiers, in the south.
>    In the north, the Iraqi armored divisions, which are massed
>    opposite the Turkish border along the Little and Big Zeb
>    Rivers, show now sign of movement in response to US-Turkish
>    activity.
>    Iraqi concentrations in the center and south have been
>    augmented somewhat but not substantially.
>    Iraq's military passivity in the face of US-led advances and
>    strikes is beginning to worry the American, Turkish and
>    Israeli high commands. They suspect that Saddam is playing
>    the same fog-of-war game as Washington, so as to put them to
>    sleep and then catch them unawares.
>    Such sudden action could take the form of an Iraqi missile or
>    bomber attack on Israel using warheads loaded with
>    radioactive, chemical or biological materials, a combined
>    missile-terrorist strike to sabotage Saudi oil fields, or a
>    mass terrorist attack in the United States.
>    The sharpest alert to a threat to Iraq's southern neighbors
>    came not from military intelligence but from international
>    oil dealers, who warned that Saddam Hussein if attacked may
>    well decide to set fire to Saudi and Kuwaiti oil fields,
>    sending oil prices skyrocketing above US$ 40 per barrel.
>    Israel's Concerns

>    Israel faces three threats, all of them in the realm of the
>    unknown:
>    a. An Iraqi missile attack, when the size of Saddam's arsenal
>    has not been reliably established.
>    DEBKAfile 's military experts dispute the assessment heard
>    this week from retired Israeli military leaders that the
>    Iraqis have only a few missiles. The truth is that no one
>    outside Iraq knows how many Saddam has cached or what
>    advanced missile technologies he has secretly developed.
>    According to one estimate, Iraq may have accumulated between
>    70 and 150 warheads, or maybe more.
>    b. A WMD threat, when no one knows what Saddam has up his
>    sleeve - whether radiological bombs with a limited radius, or
>    a more highly developed type. The same questions apply to
>    Saddam's biological and chemical warfare capabilities.
>    c. Notwithstanding the presence of US forces in Jordan and
>    the strategic-defense relationship developed between Jordan
>    and Israel, the possibility of the old Eastern Arab Front
>    coming back to life against Israel, though unlikely, cannot
>    be entirely ruled out.
>    The gloomiest scenario envisages Iraqi units surging through
>    Jordan to attack Israeli from the east concurrently with a
>    Syrian-Hizballah strike from the north - a combined assault
>    that may sweep King Abdullah into the fray against Israel.
>    The Jordanian king is an unknown quantity, untried in war
>    situations. Therefore the odds on his executing an about-face
>    as radical as this cannot be estimated with certainty.
>    Israeli war planners, however, are not ignoring this possible
>    peril, however improbable.
>     ________________________________________
>    US Preparations for Iraq Offensive
>    From DEBKA-Net-Weekly August 2
>    5 August:  In total hush, the US has embarked on advance
>    preparations deep inside Iraq for the coming offensive
>    against Baghdad. In northern Iraq, these preparations are in
>    the form of crash engineering projects.
>    According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military sources, US army
>    engineers and equipment are working round the clock in the
>    Kurdish regions of northern Iraq to throw up a series of six
>    to eight small airfields that will cater to the main body of
>    American and Turkish forces when they cross over into Iraq.
>    The new fields, some of which are no more than widened
>    landing strips, will also serve the fighter planes and
>    helicopters providing a vanguard of special forces with air
>    cover. The airfields are strung along three strategic axes.
>    Axis 1, or the western axis, starts in the northern Kurdish
>    city of Zako and stretches southwest along the Iraqi border
>    with Syria to the city of Sinjar, west of the oil city of
>    Mosul.
>    Axis 2, or the central axis, stretches from Zako south to the
>    Kurdish-controlled city of Irbil, located between the two
>    main Iraqi oil cities of the north - Mosul and Kirkuk. The
>    airfields now under construction are points on the axis.
>    Axis 3, or the eastern axis, stretches from Irbil to
>    Sulimaniyeh, the Kurdish power and government hub in northern
>    Iraq.
>    DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military experts report that work on the
>    air bases is almost finished and the facilities are
>    practically ready for limited use by US or Turkish warplanes
>    and helicopters. They are going up under the noses of Iraqi
>    armored divisions deployed along the Lesser Zab and Greater
>    Zab rivers. Although the American engineers pose as personnel
>    working for Kurdish construction contracting firms, Iraqi air
>    and ground reconnaissance units almost certainly know what's
>    up, but have so far made no move to interfere with the work.

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