Iraq 'got Russian war intelligence'

Russia's ambassador in Baghdad gave intelligence on US military movements to Iraq's government in the opening days of the 2003 US-led invasion, a Pentagon report states, quoting from captured Iraqi documents.

    Report assessed Iraqi view of events from March to May 2003

    The 210-page report by the US military's Joint Forces Command declassified on Friday cited an April 2, 2003 document from the Iraqi minister of foreign affairs to Saddam Hussein, the president, as stating the Russian ambassador to Baghdad had funnelled strategic intelligence on US plans to Saddam's government.
    The document was written about two weeks after the invasion but before US soldiers and marines entered the capital.

    Another Iraqi document dated March 24, 2003 referred to Russian "sources" inside the US military's Central Command headquarters in Qatar.

    The allegations about the actions of Russia were based on captured documents from an Iraqi government on the verge of being toppled, and the report did not present any further documentation of the allegations.

    Entry dates

    The intelligence provided by the ambassador, the report stated, was that US forces were moving to cut off Baghdad from the south, east and north, and the heaviest concentration of troops - 12,000 of them, plus 1000 vehicles - was near Karbala, 110km southwest of the capital.

    The Russian ambassador also told the Iraqis that "the Americans were going to concentrate on bombing in and around Baghdad, cutting the road to Syria and Jordan and creating 'chaos and confusion' to force the residents of Baghdad to flee", the report stated.

    Report: Americans were going to
    bomb in and around Baghdad

    It said the US assault on Baghdad would not begin before the arrival of the Army's 4th Infantry Division - which Turkey had barred from entering Iraq from the north via Turkish territory - around April 15.

    In fact, Baghdad fell about a week before that date.

    "Significantly, the regime was also receiving intelligence from the Russians that fed suspicions that the attack out of Kuwait was merely a diversion," the report stated, citing the March 24 document.

    The purpose of the report was to assess the Iraqi view of events from March to May 2003, based on interviews with senior Iraqi officials and numerous documents.

    Oil interests?

    Army Brigadier-General Anthony Cucolo of US Joint Forces Command told a briefing he viewed Russia's actions as "driven by economic interests".

    "The information that the Russians have collected from their sources inside the American Central Command in Doha is that the United States is convinced that occupying Iraqi cities are (sic) impossible, and that they have changed their tactic ... "

    Pentagon report

    The report noted Russian business interests in Iraqi oil.

    Cucolo said the intelligence from Russia "was only a small part of Saddam's calculus on the decisions he should make and the actions he should take".

    "It was (Saddam) counting on other members of the international community to assist him in any way that he saw fit to get what he wanted," Cucolo said.

    The report said the March 24 document stated: "The information that the Russians have collected from their sources inside the American Central Command in Doha is that the United States is convinced that occupying Iraqi cities are (sic) impossible, and that they have changed their tactic," to avoid entering cities.

    Defence plan
    The report did not contain allegations reported by The New York Times last month that German intelligence agents in Baghdad obtained a copy of Saddam's plan to defend the Iraqi capital and passed it to U

    S commanders before the invasion.

    There is a longer, classified version of the report.

    Officials said on Friday they could not confirm or deny whether the allegations were contained in that version.

    Bush cited the threat of WMDs
    as the main reason for invasion

    The report painted Saddam as convinced the US would not launch a ground invasion that would seriously threaten his rule, believing the Americans too squeamish about casualties, and that an internal coup was a bigger threat.

    The report also dealt with the issue of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

    George Bush, the US president, cited the threat posed by such weapons as the prime justification for the invasion. No such weapons were found.
    The report said that for months after the invasion, some senior officials of Saddam's government continued to think it was possible Iraq had a WMD capability hidden away.

    It stated that "the public confidence of so many Western governments, especially based on CIA information, made at least one senior (Iraqi) official believe the contention that Iraq possessed such weapons might be true," citing a classified intelligence report.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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