DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s exclusive military sources report that Thursday, March 27, the allied war command relocated its operational and intelligence command quarters from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan to the big air base at Talill east of Nasiriya, Iraq’s most sophisticated and well-equipped air facility. As soon as the command offices moved over Thursday afternoon, giant American Galaxy transports began lifting in reinforcements of tanks, armored vehicles and heavy artillery collected from overseas bases around the world. The Pentagon and the war command are transporting war materiel to Talill at top speed to supply the army’s urgent needs.
Two thousands US Marines were flown into Talill Thursday night from their base in Djibouti, where they were based for counter-terror duty in East Africa, the Horn of Africa, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They have joined the Marine forces fighting in the Nasiriya sector.
At the same time, the big H-3 air base complex of western Iraq began taking small transports, fighters, spy planes, reconnaissance craft and helicopters that had been based in Jordan. US military engineers are working round the clock under sporadic artillery fire to upgrade Basra airport in the south. The artillery fire comes from the town’s center.
In the north, four airfields are functioning under American command at Barmeni, Bakarjo, Ankwa and Harir.
One thousands paratroops of the US 173 Airborne Division were flown in from northern Italy to Harir early Thursday, followed by an airlift of additional troops and equipment for the forces fighting in north Iraq.
Georgia Opens Door to Americans
In addition to the seven air bases taken over for American military use in Iraq, Georgia has made two military air installations near its capital of Tiblisi available as staging posts for US air force flights to western and northern Iraq.
President George W. Bush obtained the consent of the Georgian president Edouard Shverdnadze for this arrangement on Tuesday, March 25, so gaining an alternative to Turkish bases.
Riyadh Shuts Door to US 4th Infantry Division
Saudi Arabia had a change of heart in the opposite direction. Thursday, Riyadh withdrew its permission for the US 4th Infantry Division to put in or discharge its tanks at its Red Sea port of Yanbo and for transport planes to land 4th Division tank crews flying in from Texas.
This movement was therefore halted abruptly Thursday night and diverted from Saudi Arabia to Kuwait.