The United States has accelerated the pace
of bombing missions in Iraq.
Western diplomatic sources said the U.S. military has intensified the targeting of air
defense assets to ensure minimum threat to an allied air attack on Baghdad
that is expected to signal the start of a war to topple the regime of Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein. The sources said the focus is to destroy Iraqi
anti-aircraft batteries and radar in southern Iraq near the Kuwaiti border.
U.S. fighter-jets struck two Iraqi anti-aircraft radars near the Kuwaiti
border on late Monday, Middle East Newsline reported. U.S. Central Command said the target was an Iraqi
mobile radar facility near Al Amarah, about 250 kilometers southeast of
It was the second strike this year by U.S. warplanes to enforce the
no-fly zone in southern Iraq. On Saturday, U.S. military aircraft targeted
Iraqi air defense communications facilities. The diplomatic sources said the
rate of attacks on Iraqi installations has been increased over the last two
The U.S. military is pouring thousands of troops into Kuwait and
preparing for an exercise later this month. U.S. officials said Washington
will also increase the number of aircraft and warships in the Gulf region.
"I hope that force will not have to be used," U.S. Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld said on Tuesday. "But in the meantime, we'll keep flowing
Rumsfeld also said the Pentagon is requesting an increase for special
operations forces in the fiscal 2004 budget. He cited equipment losses by
the Special Operations Command in Afghanistan and plans to increase the
number of commandos assigned to the unit's aviation regiment. The regiment
specializes in flying combat forces behind enemy lines.