Wednesday 22 January 2003

Russian source: US 'will attack Iraq next month'

A Russian source today claimed to have information that the US plans to launch an attack on Iraq within the next month. The claim came as Germany confirmed that it would not back a UN resolution authorising war.

The Russian news agency Interfax quoted an unnamed, high-ranking source in the Russian general headquarters as saying that the US and its allies would attack once a battle-ready force of 150,000 troops reached the Gulf.

"According to the information we have, the operation is planned for the second half of February. The decision to launch it has been taken but not yet been made public," the source said.

The source claimed that toppling the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, was a pretext allowing the US to acquire control of Iraqi oilfields.

"The military operation against Iraq will be conducted by a combination of means. Strikes will be from the air, land and sea," the source said, claiming that Washington expects the military campaign to last for around a month.

Interfax did not explain how the Russians had obtained the alleged details.

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