Bush says no timetable for war in Iraq as build-up goes on
The United States denied having a specific timetable for war in Iraq as build-up continues.
Bush aides seemed to caution against viewing January 27, when UN disarmament inspectors will report their findings to the UN Security Council, as a trigger date.
"The president thinks it remains important for the inspectors to do their job and that they have time to do their job. The president has not put an exact timetable on it," said U.S. President Bush spokesman, Ari Fleischer.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher echoed those comments, saying the only issue that mattered was stripping Iraq of any nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. "The issue is not some arbitrary period of time," he said. "The issue is Iraq's disarmament."
Despite these statements, the U.S. Navy is deploying a seven-ship armada with up to 7,000 Marines from California, AP reported.
The new amphibious task force would mirror a seven-ship deployment of Marines that headed out over the weekend from bases on the Virginia coast, Navy officials said Monday.
Together the task forces will present Gen. Tommy Franks, the commander who would run a war against Iraq, with the option of amphibious assaults from the northern Persian Gulf, the officials said. The Marines also could go ashore in Kuwait to be part of an Army-led land attack into southern Iraq.
The Marines also could move by helicopter into Iraq from their ships in the Gulf or from Kuwait to establish forward bases, as they did in southern Afghanistan early in that war.
The movement of naval forces is part of a broader buildup of American military might in the Gulf region. About 60,000 troops already are in the area and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in recent days has signed orders for an additional 67,000, including about 20,000 Marines. Eventually the size of the U.S. force arrayed against Iraq could reach 250,000.
Meanwhile, the US Central Command said warplanes from a US-British coalition patrolling Iraq's no-fly zones bombed an anti-ship missile launcher near Basra in southern Iraq "because it was a threat to coalition maritime forces operating in the north Arabian Gulf."
An Iraqi military spokesman told the official INA news agency six civilians were killed in the attack. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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