"I believe Saddam Hussein always intended to fight an insurgency should Iraq fall," Major General Charles Swannack, commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division told the Washington Post on Thursday.

"That is why you see so many of these arms caches out there in significant numbers all over the country. They were planning to go ahead and fight an insurgency, should Iraq fall," he said. 

Swannack said Saddam and his generals were probably surprised by the speed of the US-led invasion of Iraq in April and took several months to develop a response. That would explain the low anti-US violence in July and August, he added.

However, the US general said Saddam was not personally
orchestrating the attacks since he had enough to do avoiding being captured by US forces.

"He has to move so much that he can't do the day-to-day operational planning or direction and resourcing of the effort," Swannack said.

Organised attacks

An unnamed senior US military commander in Baghdad said the Iraqi resistance forces were likely organised on three levels, all with Saddam's Baathist loyalists at the core.

Commander says resistance
attacks organised on three levels

The first level, the officer said, dealt with sniper attacks of army patrols probably carried out by eight or 10 neighbourhood-based cells in Baghdad, each with about 25 members.

The next level was a city-wide organisation with links to criminal gangs specialising in improvised roadside bombs against US troops, the officer said.

The top level, he added, handled mass casualty bomb attacks, such as the one carried out on Wednesday against the Italian military police headquarters. That level consisted of Baathists working with foreign fighters.