US deploys soldiers, CIA agents in northern Iraq from Jordan
June 29, 2002
Dozens of US troops and intelligence services have been sent into northern Iraq from Jordan under a plan to overthrow President Saddam Hussein, the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir reported on Saturday.
In a front-page story datelined London, the daily quoted "well informed diplomatic sources" as saying Washington "has launched a security and military operation in Iraq."
Central Intelligence Agency chief George Tenet had "personally visited northern Iraq during his last tour of the region and had given orders to start the security plan after US President George W. Bush (recently) approved a decision to ask the CIA to overthrow ... Saddam," the source said.
The Lebanese daily, which maintains close relations with the Syrian leadership, said forward bases for US troops had been set up in Jordan.
"Jordanian King Abdullah has given orders to clear two military airports in Jordan for the US forces. About 2,000 US troops have been deployed in Jordan so far," it said.
"Dozens of those US soldiers, along with CIA agents, have been sent into Iraqi territory," it said.
The sources said the US had started a "flurry of contacts with various forces among the Iraqi opposition, and there are great difficulties in forming a coalition similar to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.
"Intensive contacts are being held with both the Kurdish and Shiite opposition in order to establish springboards for potential operations," they said.
The sources added that Washington had first approached Saudi Arabia, which "refused to let its territory be used for any military attack against Iraq.
"It seems that discussions moved to other countries in order to reach an agreement on the possibility of using their territory in case it is needed," they said.
"The United States has drawn a plan for an emergency economic assistance to Jordan in case its economic and trade relations with Iraq suffer a crisis," they added.