Iraq troops head for Kuwait border

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The Independent Online
IRAQ MOVED large numbers of troops and tanks towards its border with Kuwait yesterday, according to a report last night, increasing the risk of another military clash.

The US has said that a large movement of armoured vehicles into Iraq's south could be regarded as a threat to the security of Kuwait, and might justify another round of air strikes. As well as the no-fly zone, there is a no-drive zone which bans the movement of armoured vehicles. Coming soon after US air strikes on Iraq last month and repeated aerial clashes in the no-fly zones over the country, the move suggests that some fresh conflict between the US and Britain and Iraq may be approaching.

A BBC journalist in southern Iraq reported trucks carrying armoured vehicles, missile launchers and radar installations moving down the main Baghdad- Basra road. The military governor of the Basra region, General Ahmed Ibrahim Hamash, told the BBC that new air defence weapons were arriving, and that he had orders to shoot at all enemy planes.

Iraq has been warning for the past few weeks that it might cease to recognise the border with Kuwait. It has also threatened United Nations helicopter flights in the demilitarised zone between Iraq and Kuwait, and said that it wanted the UN border observation posts removed.

Kuwait has put its forces on alert and the US reinforced its ground and air units in the country last week.

The first detachment of Patriot missiles arrived in Turkey yesterday to defend it against possible missile attacks, another sign that tension in the region is escalating.

HMS Invincible, the British aircraft carrier, is approaching the region, and passed through the Suez Canal yesterday.

The US has claimed that Iraq is facing revolt in the south of the country, home of the Shia Muslim minority.