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Israeli monitor intercepts order: War starting on March 18

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Wednesday, March 12, 2003

TEL AVIV The U.S. military has been ordered to launch a war against Iraq on March 18, an Israeli official said in a televised report.

Israeli government monitor, Michael Gurdus, reported on late Tuesday that the order was relayed by U.S. Central Command to all American forces in the Persian Gulf. Gurdus told Israel's Channel 2 television that he heard the order being relayed to U.S. fighter-jet pilots and others over U.S. military radio communications he intercepted.



Gurdus is regarded as the leading communications monitor in the Middle East and works for Israel radio and television. He has broken numerous stories because of his ability to intercept and understand foreign-language civilian and radio broadcasts and communications. He said the U.S. military, in its radio communications, refers to Iraq as "bad cows" and "kabab", Middle East Newsline reported.

On Monday, Israel's media reported that the United States had demanded that senior Israeli officials stop issuing predictions of when the war would erupt. Israeli defense officials have concluded that the United States plans to strike Iraq after March 17, the deadline set for Iraq to answer questions regarding its missile and weapons of mass destruction programs.

Israeli defense officials have concluded that the United States plans to strike Iraq after March 17, the deadline set for Iraq to answer questions regarding its missile and weapons of mass destruction programs.

Pentagon sources dismissed the Israeli report. But they said the U.S. military in Kuwait has already been placed on high alert, and that the preparations for war will intensify over the weekend.

U.S. officials have reported an increase in air missions in Iraq and said President George Bush does not plan to wait weeks until any confrontation with Baghdad. They said the United States has more than 225,000 soldiers in the Iraqi theater of operations and has focused operations on southern Iraq.

"In order to keep the pressure on the Iraqi regime to disarm we have stepped up Southern Watch operations," Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Tuesday. "We are now flying several hundred sorties a day, with 200 or 300 over the southern no-fly zone."

The U.S. bombing missions included targets in western Iraq near the Jordanian border. Meyers said F-15E fighter-jets dropped munitions against an air defense radar in an airfield in the H-3 region, used in 1991 to launch medium-range missiles against Israel.

The U.S. military has also ordered accelerated testing and production of new weapons for the war in Iraq. On Tuesday, the Pentagon said it tested a 21,000-bomb that contains 18,000 pounds of high explosives and meant to destroy Iraqi bunkers. The Pentagon has also signed new contracts for the accelerated production and delivery of the Patriot PAC-3 missile defense system. A PAC-3 battery has been deployed in Kuwait and U.S. Central Command hopes to station additional facilities in areas of the Persian Gulf and Middle East.

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