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U.S. cuts fence on Iraq's southern border in prelude to invasion


Some Marine units already inside

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Monday, March 10, 2003

ABU DHABI The United States has removed portions of the fence on Kuwait's border with Iraq in the final prelude to an invasion by U.S. ground forces.

The U.S. Central Command cut down parts of a border fence that marks the demilitarized border zone between Iraq and Kuwait last week, Western diplomatic sources said. U.S. Marine units and military vehicles have already entered Iraqi territory, the sources said.

Diplomats said the fence was cut to allow U.S. tanks and armored vehicles to cross into Iraq. The fence was cut in seven places along the 210 kilometer border.

Neither Kuwait nor the United States has confirmed the action, but the United Nations, which monitors the demilitarized zone, reported the fence removal over the weekend.

UN officials have also reported the movement of U.S. marine units and military vehicles across the Kuwaiti border into Iraq. They said the infiltrations have accelerated over the last week.

The diplomatic sources cited a March 17 British and U.S. deadline for Iraq to answer questions on its weapons of mass destruction programs. They said war could break out immediately after that deadline.

The openings in the fence were made beginning on March 5 and ending Saturday, the sources said.

The officials said UN military observers were being withdrawn from the Iraq-Kuwait border in fear of an imminent war. Daljeet Bagga of the UN Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission said the agency has also ended air and sea patrols of the demilitarized zone.

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