Israel: Saddam has not deployed missiles in western Iraq

Thursday, March 20, 2003

TEL AVIV Israel's intelligence community asserts that Iraq has not deployed medium-range missile launchers near the Jordanian border.

Israeli intelligence officials said on Thursday they have seen no evidence that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has managed to bring Al Hussein launchers into the H-2 and H-3 areas of western Iraq. These areas were used as launching pads for missile attacks against Israel in the 1991 Gulf war.

Saddam's forces have transported missiles in trucks to areas west of Baghdad, officials said. But they said military intelligence does not have any evidence that these missiles were deployed in H-2 and H-3, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The missile movements seemed to be a question of concealment and deception rather than any true military redeployment," an official said.

On Wednesday, military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Zeevi-Farkash told the Cabinet Saddam has not brought his missiles within striking range of Israel. The Al Hussein has a range of 650 kilometers and the Saddam regime is said to possess anywhere from 20 to 90 such missiles.

Officials have concluded that the prospect of an Iraqi missile attack on Israel is extremely low. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon placed the chances at "one percent."

Still, Israel has placed its military, particularly its air force, on high alert. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Cabinet that Israel has mobilized 12,000 reservists to prepare for the war. Most of them are in civil defense and anti-aircraft units.

"If the chance of us being hit is one percent, the preparations that we have made provide the answer to 100 percent of the dangers," Sharon said.

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