Report: 40,000 British troops to participate in Basra occupation; Inspectors search at five sites
U.N. weapons inspectors set out Sunday morning for searches at five sites, according to Iraqi officials. One was identified as a space research center. Another, al-Kindi Co., was identified in the final report of U.N. weapons inspectors who worked in Iraq in the 1990s as having had a role in Iraq's biological weapons programs.
Meanwhile, The Sunday Telegraph reported that the Royal Navy is planning its biggest amphibious landing operation in more than 20 years as the main British effort in a war to topple Saddam Hussein .
According to the report, the whole of the Royal Marines 3 Commando Brigade will join American forces to seize the strategically vital southern port of Basra, Iraq's second city.
Allied commanders regard the capture of Basra, along with its docks at the head of the Gulf and two airfields, as extremely important to the invasion.
The amphibious force being assembled for the task is likely to be at least 40,000 strong. The 5,500 Royal Marines will fight alongside two expeditionary units of the US marines.
The attack will involve the naval task force which sails to the Gulf early next month, led by the aircraft carrier Ark Royal after its conversion into a commando assault ship.
In a related development, the U.S. Army launched its biggest maneuver in the Kuwaiti desert since the Gulf War on Saturday, throwing thousands of soldiers and hundreds of armored vehicles into live-fire exercises.
"This is the biggest maneuver exercise since the Gulf War," Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, commander of the 3rd Division, told The Associated Press. "It really adds focus to our soldiers. They're already one of the best trained divisions in the army, probably in the world." (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)