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Monday, 3 February, 2003, 12:35 GMT
'Massive assault' planned on Iraq
Bombed-out car in Afghanistan
US was criticised over civilian casualties in Afghanistan
Senior US military officials have been outlining what they say are their plans for a military assault on Iraq.

The onslaught would begin with ground attacks combined with a massive assault from the air, defence officials told the BBC.

Missiles fired during 1991 war
Missiles will aim to eliminate Iraqi power structures
Reports suggest that 3,000 precision bombs and missiles could be employed in the first two days of the air strike - 10 times the number used in the opening stages of the 1991 Gulf War.

Details of the Pentagon's war plan emerged as Baghdad accused Washington of fabricating evidence that Iraq possesses banned nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to present what officials have suggested is damning evidence of Iraqi wrongdoing to the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

Knock-out blow

Pentagon officials told the BBC that the first few days of any assault on Iraq would aim to blow a crater in the Iraqi leadership and military.

General Hossam Amin, director of the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate
It is a political game

General Hossam Mohammed Amin
This would involve the use of some 3,000 precision bombs and missiles in just the first two days, says the latest report on Pentagon war planning in the New York Times newspaper.

That display of military might would be coupled with what the US air force calls an "effects-based doctrine" - improved targeting of centres of military and political power.

However, there is some scepticism even within the Pentagon that such tactics will play out in reality as they do on paper, according to the BBC's Pentagon correspondent, Nick Childs.

On the ground, small army units with key capabilities would attempt to capture key posts ahead of the main lines of advance.

They would be followed by large infantry divisions.

Put together, the strategy seeks to land a knock-out blow early on.

Sparring

Some Pentagon officials are even daring to hope that such war plans, combined with the huge build-up to war, will cause the Iraqi resistance to wilt before any fighting even starts, says our correspondent.

Meanwhile, the sparring over the justification for war continued as a senior Iraqi official said he expects Washington to present falsified evidence of Iraqi wrongdoing to the UN Security Council on Wednesday.

General Hossam Mohammed Amin - responsible for liaising with UN weapons inspectors - told the BBC that Mr Powell would unveil "fabricated space photos or aerial photos".

He said Mr Powell's testimony - which US officials and commentators have hinted is dramatically damning - was part of a "political game".

Schools close

As the build-up to war continues, two American-run schools used by Western expatriates in Kuwait are closing their doors until late March.

Officials at the American School of Kuwait (ASK) and the American International School (AIS) said security concerns and uncertainty about war in the Gulf had prompted the decision to close.

A series of attacks on Westerners in Kuwait has unsettled American and European residents, who number roughly 16,000.

However, there has as yet been no mass exodus from the country, which was invaded by Iraq in 1990, prompting the 1991 war.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Paul Adams
"Across the Kuwaiti border, American soldiers are training"
General Hossam Amin, Iraqi weapons directorate
"We are the side who invited these talks"

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02 Feb 03 | Americas
02 Feb 03 | Politics
02 Feb 03 | Middle East
02 Feb 03 | Middle East
27 Jan 03 | Americas
03 Feb 03 | Politics
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