Saddam's military preparing for action in northern Iraq

Geostrategy Direct

Week of 2/25/2003

Iraqi military forces are moving troops and equipment into northern Iraq in anticipation of military action. Nine large rocket launcher systems were moved from one town and concealed in a storage depot in the town of Diyala, where a dam is located, the Kurdish newspaper Irbil Brayati reported last week.

"The regime's repressive apparatuses in all cities and towns under their control have repeatedly warned citizens that in the event of a U.S. attack, no one must leave his home during the day or night," the Feb. 11 report stated. "Anyone who breaks the curfew will be dealt with as an American soldier."

The newspaper reported that Iraqi forces have begun planting mines in fields around Kirkuk and have begun arming pro-Baghdad Kurdish forces.

Iraqi troops in the town of Khanaqin told residents that every house must provide a fighter for the coming war. Those without men must provide a woman to work in hospitals of public places.

Heavy weapons and ammunition were spotted moving from areas near Tikrit to farms near Sajidah.

According to the newspaper, the Iraqis have formed "execution and shooting committees" to deal with soldiers who desert or refuse to fight in the coming war. Each committee is made up of five people.

The Iraqis also have informed tribes near Kirkuk that a U.S. military offensive against their villages will result in Iraqi forces attacking their villages with rockets and artillery.

"We have been informed by a special source that a wide-spread demoralization, disintegration and desertion from the ranks of army has already begun, and fear and anxiety are prevalent within the regime's army," the newspaper said, noting that a special order has been issued banning weekend passes and requiring special authority for leave.

Iraqi authorities also seized privately-owned satellite dishes in northern Iraq last week as part of a crackdown on unofficial media receivers. Opposition groups in northern Iraq have begun broadcasting both television and radio into the region.