Russian intelligence report on war
peterb at dsp.org.au
Sun Mar 23 19:40:04 MST 2003
Sick of hearing just the "news" reportage from the Western
journalists "embedded" in the US-British military units
attacking Iraq? Then have a read of this different account
the progress of the invasion compiled from Russian
It may not be all the truth but it is another angle on the
March 23, 2003
[The IRAQWAR.RU analytical center was created recently by a
group of journalists and military experts from Russia to
provide accurate and up-to-date news and analysis of the war
against Iraq. The following is the English translation of
the IRAQWAR.RU report based on the Russian military
March 23, 2003, 1200hrs MSK (GMT +3), Moscow - The situation
in southern Iraq can be characterized as unstable and
controversial. Heavy fighting is taking place in the
Umm-Qasr-An-Nasiriya-Basra triangle. Satellite and signals
intelligence show that both sides actively employ armored
vehicles in highly mobile attacks and counterattacks.
Additionally, fighting is continuing near the town of
As of this morning the Iraqi defenses along the Basra -
An-Nasiriya - An-Najaf line are holding.
Following the yesterday's Iraqi counter strike near
An-Nasiriya the US command was forced to halt the advance of
its troops toward An-Najaf and to redirect a portion of
available tank forces to cover the flanks of the 3rd
Motorized Infantry Division attacked by the Iraqis. By late
evening yesterday constant air strikes and increasing
strength of American tank attacks forced the Iraqis to
withdraw their troops back to eastern parts of Nasiriya,
across the Euphrates river, were they assumed defensive
positions along the river bank.
During the last day of fighting the Iraqis lost up to 20
tanks, up to 2 artillery batteries, and around 100 troops.
Yesterday's US losses are estimated at 10 destroyed or
disabled tanks, several armored personnel carriers and up to
15 troops killed in action.
By 0700hrs MSK today the fighting at Nasiriya stopped.
Currently both sides are rushing to regroup their forces and
to get them ready for more fighting in this area.
Near Basra the advance of the coalition forces came to a
complete halt at the near approaches to the western and
southwestern outskirts of the city. The US and British
forces are rushing to settle into defensive positions after
failing to surround Basra. Eastern and northern approaches
to Basra remain open and under control of the Iraqi forces.
More controversial reports are coming in from the town of
Umm-Qasr. As early as three days ago the US command has
declared that the coalition forces have captured this small
port town and the adjacent oil terminal. However, throughout
these three days heavy fighting continued in the town and in
the suburbs. The US forces are still unable to break the
defense put up by the Iraqi 45th brigade defending the town.
Moreover, several counterattacks by the Iraqi forces at Umm
Qasr have pushed the US forces out of some part of the town.
During last night the Iraqi 45th brigade was reinforced by a
special tank battalion of the 51st Infantry Division. The
reinforcement included up to 600 troops and 10 tanks.
However, the coalition forces were also strengthened
overnight with two tank battalions and self-propelled
artillery. As of 1000hrs MSK this morning heavy fighting
continues at Umm Qasr.
According to intercepted radio communications, the British
marine infantry units in defensive positions on the Fao
peninsula have requested emergency air and artillery support
after being attacked by superior Iraqi forces. So far it is
not clear whether this was an actual counterattack by the
Iraqis or just a nuisance attack. The British commanders
report that their positions are being attacked by up to a
regiment of infantry supported by tanks.
Other intercepted radio traffic suggests that, as the
British and US forces bend the Basra - An-Najaf line of
defense, the Iraqi command will pull back its main forces to
the Al-Ammara - Ad-Divaniya line. Already most of the Iraqi
forces in this region have moved to the Al-Ammara -
Ad-Divaniya positions and within the next 48 hours defense
of Basra and Fao peninsula will be reduced to just the local
units and garrisons. The goal of the remaining forces will
be to tie up superior coalition forces in these areas.
According to radio intercepts during today's night the
coalition begun airdropping troops in northern Iraq from
airfields in Turkey and Jordan. These forces are being used
to form mobile strike groups in northern Kurdistan and near
the western-Iraqi town of Er-Rutbah. Already up to 5,000
coalition troops have been delivered to northern Kurdistan
and up to 1000 paratroopers have landed near Er-Rutbah.
Russian military intelligence has uncovered a range of facts
pointing to a separate arrangement between the top
leadership of Jordan and the US military command. Officially
Jordan has declared its neutrality in the war against Iraq
and refused to provide its airspace to the coalition
aviation. However, at the same time Jordan has allowed the
anti-Iraq coalition to place surveillance radars and radio
reconnaissance stations on its territory. Jordan has also
allowed the coalition to use its military airbases.
Available information indicates that coalition special ops
units, including up to 400 troops and their command
headquarters, have been deployed to the Jordanian Zarka
military base and to the home base of the Jordan's 71st
special ops brigade.
Reports that have surfaced in the media in the past 12 hours
about the capture of a US special ops unit near Baghdad are
probably not true. It is likely that these reports refer to
the capture of coalition paratroopers yesterday morning near
the town of Akashat.
During the past 12 hours there has been a drop in intensity
of air strikes against Baghdad. Analysts attribute this to
the fact that most of available coalition air assets are now
deployed in support of ground forces. Intercepted coalition
radio traffic shows that most of the bombing attacks against
Baghdad are carried out by the US strategic aviation and by
sea-launched long-range cruise missiles.
So far the US was unable to destroy the air defense networks
in central Iraq. As before, the Iraqis continue to covertly
use their radars and SAM launchers on a limited bases while
employing a huge number of decoys designed to imitate
The US was also unable to disrupt the central control over
the Iraqi army. The US command is forced to admit that,
despite the best efforts of the coalition aviation, the
Iraqi forces maintain high combat readiness and reliable
command and control structure.
[Russian] radio intercept units have reported the loss of
two coalition planes. One of the planes was a "Tornado"
strike aircraft and the other one was believed to be an F-16
fighter-bomber. The F-16 was shot down over Baghdad and is
believed to have crash-landed in a desert in southern Iraq.
A coalition search-and-resque unit was immediately
dispatched to this area.
A CIA referent in the combat area Col. Davis (likely to be a
pseudonym) and the US DoD Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
regional director were demoted due to their inadequate
performance in estimating the strength of Iraq's forces and
their combat readiness.
Eyewitnesses report that Gen. Tommy Franks looks extremely
exhausted and irritated. Gen. Franks has cancelled the
meeting with journalists planned for this morning.
Work is paralyzed at the coalition press-center in Kuwait.
Journalists are not able to get any information except for
the hourly press communique from the command. A variety of
reasons are cited by the military to reduce the number of
trips into the combat zone for the journalists. All reports
coming from the journalists attached to the coalition units
are now being strictly censored by the military. All live
broadcasts, as those seen during the first day of the war,
are now strictly prohibited by a special order from the
coalition command. The required time delay between the time
news video footage was shot and the time it can be broadcast
has been increased to a minimum of 4 hours.
More accurate information became available regarding the
losses sustained by both sides during the first three days
of the war. The coalition has officially acknowledged the
deaths of some 25 servicemen. However, intercepted radio
communications show that the actual number of coalition
casualties is at least 55-70 troops killed and no less than
200 wounded. The emergency dispatch of the "Comfort" medical
ship closer to the combat zone is a direct indication of
serious casualties. The "Comfort" is expected to arrive to
the southern tip of the Fao peninsula later tonight.
It is more difficult to evaluate the losses of the Iraqi
especially due to the air strikes. On the south front Iraqi
losses are estimated at 400-600 killed, 1,500 wounded and up
to 300 captured.
(source: iraqwar.ru, 03-23-03, translated by Venik)
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