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 This item from AFP was also carried in the Beirut daily as-Safir for Sept. 28, 2002 in Arabic
September 27, 2002, 02:56 PM

Israeli forces operating inside Iraq, hunting missiles: newsletter


LONDON (AFP) - Israel special forces are operating inside western Iraq, pinpointing locations where Iraqi missile lauchers might be positioned, the Jane's Foreign Report newsletter said in its latest issue.

The newsletter said the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit was ordered into Iraq "to find and identify places used by, or likely to be used by, Iraqi Scud missile launchers."

"Our information is that neither Israel nor the United States have a clue about what, if anything, Saddam Hussein is hiding," the newsletter said, referring to the Iraqi leader.

"It was this ignorance that persuaded the (Israeli) prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to assign the Sateret Matkal to a job that is sensitive and dangerous," it said.

During the 1991 Gulf war Iraq fired a total of 39 Scud missiles over Jordan into Israel. A decade earlier Israeli warplanes had intervened to bomb and destroy an Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad.

Jane's Foreign Report said there were only certain locations from where Iraq's remaining Scud missiles could be launched at Israeli targets, given their limited range.

"Matkal's mission is to detect early preparations," it said, adding: "The Israelis believe the Iraqis have hidden their Scud launchers with great care."

© 2002 AFP

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