The Iraqi military has been placed on alert around Baghdad and in northern and southern Iraq. This includes the operation of anti-aircraft batteries and the opening of weapons storehouses. Iraq has obtained at least 200 tank transporters from Russia and has plans to import up to 1,300 such vehicles in an effort to compensate for a lack of spare parts for tanks and armored personnel carriers, due to the U.S. boycott.
In addition, the military has moved troops to Kurdish areas near the Syrian and Turkish border. The troop movement appears to reinforce major routes that lead from Iran to Syria and Jordan. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, ?We have seen reports that Iraq is moving troops towards the Kurdish areas. We are trying to establish the facts on the ground. We are watching the situation closely.? He said that Kurdish resources inside Iraq estimate that close to 9,000 members of Saddam Husseins? Republican Guard have amassed in the region. Kurdish officials in Washington say that the deployment does not represent a ?significant or immanent? threat. Qubad Talabani, a representative for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, said in an interview that his party is confident that British and American jet fighters will attack Iraqi troops if they go on an offensive against the Kurds. However, sources say that the Kurds were not given a direct assurance that attacks against Kurdish civilian targets would be resisted by American air power.
Boucher has stated that ?Our longstanding policy has been that if Iraq reconstitutes its weapons of mass destruction, threatens its neighbors or U.S. forces, or moves against the Kurds, we do maintain a credible force in the region. We are prepared to act at an appropriate time and place of our choosing.?
Talibani said, ?We would like to have our security guaranteed. That is the minimum for our needs to be met. This is the main concern for us at the moment.?
The military moves by Iraq could be one reason that the U.S. military has moved to a high state of alert, ?Threat Concern Delta,? in the Persian Gulf, as reported by unknowncountry.com on June 22.
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