U.S. Rushes To Prepare For Iraq Attack

by DEBKAfile

5 August 2002

: 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.