ISRAELI COMMANDO FORCES OPERATING IN WESTERN IRAQ
By Christopher Bollyn
American Free Press
Israeli commando forces are reportedly operating in western Iraq where their mission could include creating a provocative incident to kick-start a war.
Israeli special forces are already in western Iraq, reportedly pinpointing locations where Iraqi missile launchers may be positioned, according to the authoritative Janeï’s Foreign Report of September 24. While foreign news outlets have reported this explosive story, the controlled U.S. mass media has chosen to ignore it.
While politicians and media are discussing the prospect of war with Iraq, the Israelis are taking action, Janeï’s wrote. Israeli special forces are already operating reconnaissance patrols in western Iraq. These operations are carried out secretly by Israelï’s best-trained commandos, the “Sayeret Matkalï”. Their mission: to find and identify places used by, or likely to be used by, Iraqi Scud missile-launchers.
Sayeret Matkal is also known as the General Staff Reconnaissance Unit and belongs to the Intelligence Branch of the Israeli military. The unit was formed in 1957 to carry out top-secret intelligence gathering missions behind enemy lines.
Meir Dagan, the new director of Mossad, Israelï’s military intelligence agency, made a secret trip to Washington recently to improve military cooperation between the U.S. and Israel during the planned strike against Iraq, Janeï¿½s wrote. Dagan proposed that Israeli special forces carry out ground operations within Iraq before the main attack, it said.
ï¿½Our information is that neither Israel nor the United States have a clue about what, if anything, Saddam Hussein is hiding,ï¿½ Janeï¿½s said. ï¿½It was this ignorance that persuaded the (Israeli) prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to assign the Sayeret Matkal to a job that is sensitive and dangerous.ï¿½
Iraq is reported to have a small number of long-range land-to-land missiles with a range of more than 600 miles. It is thought that these are located in the western desert region of Iraq. Deep caves are found in this area and can provide cover for military equipment. From this western region, Iraqi missiles could strike at targets in the Gulf and Israel, the Cairo-based Al-Ahram wrote.
During the Gulf War, Iraqï¿½s mobile missile-launchers proved highly elusive to aerial reconnaissance. To thwart aerial detection, the Iraqi military used high-fidelity decoys and took full advantage of gullies, culverts, and underpasses in the vast expanse of Iraqï¿½s 29,000-square-mile desert. In January 1991, Iraq deployed Scud missiles aboard mobile launchers and initiated attacks on Israel. Although they inflicted little damage, the Scud attacks threatened to draw Israel into the conflict.
U.S. and British special forces were deployed then to search for Scud launchers on the ground.
Janeï¿½s said there were only certain locations from where Iraqï¿½s remaining Scud missiles could be launched at Israeli targets, given their limited range. ï¿½Matkalï¿½s mission is to detect early preparations,ï¿½ Janeï¿½s reported. ï¿½The Israelis believe the Iraqis have hidden their Scud launchers with great care.ï¿½
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided to dispatch the elite unit into Iraq, ï¿½so as not to take chances,ï¿½ Janeï¿½s wrote. The Israeli commandos are operating in specific regions, which are the only ones from where Iraq can launch missiles at Israel, it said. Sharon is reported to have told the United States that he will strike Iraq if any incident occurs in which Iraq attacks Israel. With Israeli commandos already in Iraq an incident could easily be fabricated in which Iraq appears to attack Israel and thus create an excuse for Israel to retaliate.
If Israel is seen to be conducting military operations in Iraq, as the Janeï¿½s report says, relations with Washingtonï¿½s Arab allies could be in jeopardy and anti-US and anti-Israeli sentiments in the entire region could be enflamed.
ï¿½The Israeli operation was being carried out without the knowledge of the U.S.,ï¿½ the English-language Jerusalem Post wrote, because it ï¿½could raise tensions particularly at such a sensitive period, when the U.S. is attempting to garner support for an offensive against Iraq in the Arab world.ï¿½
The Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth, however, wrote otherwise and said that the Israeli commando infiltration into western Iraq had been ï¿½coordinated secretly [with the U.S.] so as not to arouse the ire of Arab countries.ï¿½ The Janeï¿½s report had also been confirmed by American sources, it wrote.
Israeli officials refused to comment on the report of Israeli forces in Iraq. A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. David Lapan, told AFP that he could not comment on the report or whether the Pentagon had approved of Israeli commando forces being sent into Iraq.
American and British special forces are reportedly already in western Iraq to prevent Saddam deploying Scud missile launchers for an attack on Israel, according to Londonï¿½s Daily Telegraph.
The U.S. military and the CIA have also sent reconnaissance troops and units to train opposition forces in the sections of northern Iraq under Kurdish control, military analysts say. ï¿½We are pretty sure that the American and the British have been in northern Iraq at least since April,ï¿½ Charles Heyman, editor of Janeï¿½s World Armies, said.
ï¿½I think there is a pretty good chance that the elite special forces working with the CIA are exploring the battlefield,ï¿½ said retired Rear Adm. Stephen Baker, senior fellow at the Center for Defense Information. ï¿½It makes sense to have those folks active now, doing our homework.ï¿½
U.S. TROOPS IN JORDAN
Some 8,000 U.S. troops are reported to be in Jordan near the border with Iraq, although the Jordanian King Abdullah has said that Jordanian bases will not serve as jumping off points for an assault against Iraq.
An Israeli source, Debka, reported that 4,000 US troops landed at the Jordanï¿½s Red Sea port of Aqaba on August 12. Aqaba is within eyesight of the Israeli town of Eilat. These troops were officially on a three-week joint exercise with the Jordanian army and relocated to the northeast Jordanian desert region bordering on Iraq, Debka wrote.
Jane’s said that Israel had struck a secret agreement with Jordan under which Israel would be permitted to use Jordanian air space, if necessary.