Report: US Special Task Forces operating in Iraq
American Special Operations troops are already operating in various areas of Iraq, hunting for weapons sites, setting up a communications network and seeking potential defectors from Iraqi military units in what amounts to the initial ground phase of a war, the Washington Post reported, citing US defense officials and experts familiar with Pentagon planning.
In its Thursday edition, the paper said that the troops, comprising two Special Operations Task Forces with an undetermined number of personnel, have been in and out of Iraq for over a month, according to two military officials. The sources said that the troops are laying the groundwork for conventional US forces that could quickly seize large parts of Iraq if President George W. Bush gives a formal order to launch a war, the officials said.
The ground operation points to a Pentagon war plan that envisions a series of preliminary ground actions to seize Iraqi territory and effectively encircle Baghdad before a large-scale air campaign hits the capital, defense officials and analysts said.
The Special Operations forces operating in Iraq have several distinct missions. Some are establishing ties with opposition groups and setting up airstrips into which US forces could be flown, the officials said. Others are focused on preventing Iraq from launching missiles or drone aircraft against Israel. Those troops are believed to move in and out of Iraq from neighboring countries. (Albawaba.com)