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Coalition losses a lot more: Web site
Shyam Bhatia in Kuwait |
March 30, 2003 19:15 IST
A Russian Web site about the war in Iraq, which offers an alternative to the daily diet of propaganda by coalition officers, is fast becoming compulsive reading throughout West Asia.
Criticised for getting information from Russian spies, http://www.aeronautics.ru has claimed that the US and Britain have had heavier losses, fewer Iraqi surrenders and more complications than their leaders suggest.
Author "Venik" says he is translating reports on the war by "journalists and military experts" who use a Russian-language site called http://www.iraqwar.ru to pass on information from the GRU -- "the all-seeing eye of the Russian military".
For its part, the GRU gets information from wiretaps, radio monitoring, satellites and thousands of agents.
On Saturday, the Web site reported how "coalition troops have so far failed to take An-Nasiriyah despite categorical orders from the command and more than 800 combat missions by strike aircraft. All attempts to break through the Iraqi defence were met by Iraqi counterattacks. After 24 hours of fighting the coalition troops only managed to advance several hundred meters in two sectors near An-Nasiriyah at the cost of 4 destroyed armoured personnel carriers, no less than 3 Marines killed by sniper and mortar fire, 10 wounded and 2 missing in action. The exact Iraqi losses are being determined".
It added, "The Americans have also failed to advance near An-Najaf. Every coalition attack was met by massive artillery barrages from the Iraqi side. Later during the day, the Iraqis mounted a counterattack throwing the US forces back by 1.5-2 kilometres. No fewer than 10 Marines were killed or wounded. After exchanging fire for six hours both warring sides remained in the same positions. Iraqi losses in this area are estimated to be 20 killed and up to 40 wounded."
"Radio communications intercepted during the last five days suggest that the coalition is using Israeli airfield" to conducts air raids on Iraq, it said.
"Combat aircraft taking off regularly from Hatzerim and Navatim [Israeli airbases] do not return to the same bases, but fly toward the border with Jordan while maintaining complete radio silence. Possibly, these are just Israeli Air Force exercises, However, [Russian] radio intercept and radar units observe increased intensity of radio communications coming from the Jordanian Air Force and air defence communication centres during such overflights, as well as changes in the operating modes of the US Army "Patriot" tracking radars deployed in Jordan.
"This indicates the Israeli airbases as used as forward airfield or that some of the coalition air force units are based there. Normally, the IAF F-15I fighter-bombers and A-4N strike aircraft operate from the Hatzerim airbase and the F-16 fighter-bombers operate from the Nevatim base."
Last week it described how coalition forces were preparing for a big push on several fronts, which might include the capture of the Saddam Hussein Airport, near Baghdad.
A Russian aviation expert known for his military contacts is vouching for these reports. When the official news was upbeat more than a week ago, his sources reported that the Iraqis had been gravely underestimated and that US Central Command chief General Tommy Franks was in danger of being replaced as commander of the coalition forces.
Last Tuesday they predicted the massive American reinforcements, which have since been announced.
They also reported that American defence chiefs were horrified at the number of "smart missiles" they had spent for thin results, and were preparing to switch to conventional bombing.
Here is a sample of some reports:
March 26: "The shock of the first days of war among the coalition troops is wearing off. Coalition actions are becoming more coherent... [and] gradually taking the initiative away from the Iraqis.
"However... massive numbers of disabled combat vehicles and other equipment becomes a strategic problem. Over 60 per cent of available spare parts have been used. The sand is literally eating up the equipment."
March 25: "Aerial bombardment of Baghdad has failed to produce the expected results. All targets designated before the war have been hit three to seven times, but this had almost no effect on the command and control structure."
The report quoted US generals, at a Pentagon meeting, saying "we are literally dropping gold into the mud" and "the enemy is using... cheaper weapons to reach the same goals for which we spend billions".
The result is that smart weapons will be kept for top targets and there will be a greater use of "scorched-earth" and "carpet-bombing" tactics.
March 24: "Several US field commanders stated their troops are unable to advance due to their soldiers being demoralised by fierce resistance and high losses. The US military intelligence and the CIA failed to uncover the true potential of the Iraqi forces and, in essence, misinformed the military and civilian leadership of the coalition countries."
March 22: There is anger in the Pentagon because of the disastrous start to the war and "if during the next 3-5 days Gen Franks fails to achieve any significant results, it is entirely possible he would be replaced".