- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 25, 2003

ARBIL, Iraq, March 25 (UPI) — U.S. forces inspected advanced positions on the frontline in northern Iraq Tuesday, in apparent preparations to launch military operations from the Kurdish-controlled enclave.

Witnesses in the Kurdish village of "Iski Kalak" which is close to the Iraqi city of Mosul, 330 kilometers north of Baghdad, told United Press International that a U.S. military unit, accompanied by Peshmerga Kurdish fighters, inspected the advanced positions in the region.

The area is controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Party led by Massoud Barzani.

Kurdish sources said additional U.S. forces also arrived in the provinces of Arbil and Suleimaniya in northern Iraq Tuesday. An estimated 250 U.S. troops have deployed in the region on Sunday.

The sources expected the northern front to become active sometime in the next 48 hours.

Meanwhile, U.S. warplanes staged missile strikes against Iraqi army positions south of Arbil, on the outskirts of the nearby city of Jamjamal and along a 40-kilometers-long front that runs parallel to the road linking Arbil with Kirkuk.

The sources said Kurdish fighters have taken up defensive positions to repel any possible Iraqi army attacks against the frontline Kurdish cities of Dahouk, Iski Kalak, Arbil, Jamjamal, Kafri and Klar.

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