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The Denver Post March 26, 2003

Coalition diminishing Scud threat

By Greg Seigle

WASHINGTON - Allied commanders are encouraged that incursions into western Iraq by special forces may have been enough to calm the threat of Scud missiles that some still fear might be tipped with chemical or biological weapons and fired at coalition troops or Israel, senior U.S. officials said Monday.

Before the war, Iraq said it had no Scuds or weapons of mass destruction, but U.S. and British officials insisted Saddam Hussein had hidden about 20 Scuds and an unknown number of chemical and biological weapons caches.

Gen. Tommy Franks, who is directing the offensive to overthrow Hussein's regime and eliminate any weapons of mass destruction, said Monday that the hunt for Scuds, their launchers, and chemical and biological weapons has been going well. However, he stopped short of declaring that all existing Scuds have been captured or destroyed.

There has been little emphasis placed on the action in western Iraq, where Scuds are suspected of being hidden in a 400-mile area.

"The untold story (of this war) is the invasion of western Iraq," said John Pike, a leading defense analyst with GlobalSecurity.org who said up to 10,000 coalition troops - including Green Berets, Army Rangers or Navy Seals, plus British Special Air Services and the Australian special forces - launched into western Iraq from Jordan. Pentagon officials declined to comment on how many troops were in the region or from where they staged their raids.


Copyright 2003, The Denver Post Corporation