TV: Iraq May Use Chemical Weapons on US in Baghdad
Mon March 24, 2003 07:47 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials say the Iraqi leadership has drawn "a red line" around the map of Baghdad and once American troops cross it Iraqi Republican Guards have been authorized to use chemical weapons, U.S. television networks reported on Monday.
The reports, by CNN, NBC and CBS's National Security correspondent David Martin, did not name the U.S. officials or give any further details.

NBC said its information was coming from intelligence officials who based it on intercepts of Iraqi communications.

"It's believed once U.S. ground troops cross the line drawn roughly between Karbala and Al Kut, the Republican Guards are under orders to attack with chemical weapons," NBC said.

CNN said the fact that the use of the weapons had apparently been authorized did not mean they would ultimately be used.

A senior Pentagon source told Reuters he could not confirm the reports.

The United States and Britain invaded Iraq last week to overthrow President Saddam Hussein and get rid of any weapons of mass destruction Iraq might have.

U.S. war commander General Tommy Franks said at a news conference in central command in Qatar earlier that his forces had not found weapons of mass destruction, but that it was "a bit early" to expect them to.

American and British forces hit Iraqi Republican Guards defending the approaches to Baghdad on the fifth day of the war.

The Pentagon said U.S. forces had advanced more than 200 miles into Iraqi territory and were beginning to confront an elite division of the Republican Guards deployed to defend the capital.