Battle for Saddam’s Underground Regime Centers

mg class=”picture” src=”/dynmedia/pictures/bag5.jpg” align=”left” border=”0″>While the images of American tanks rumbling through the streets of Baghdad Saturday, April 5, made stunning footage – certainly meant to impress on the Iraqi people and army that further resistance is useless, notwithstanding Saddam Hussein’s walkabout the day before – debkafile‘s military sources report that their mission is not to conquer the city. Baghdad’s general population, thousands of whom are fleeing the city, will be left to its own devices. The invading US troops were given orders to focus on capturing Saddam Hussein’s control, command and communications centers, the nerve centers of his regime, which are buried in four vast underground palace complexes under Baghdad and its environs. The fighting against mostly jumbled tag-ends of Special Republican Guards divisions centered Saturday, Day 17 of the Iraq War, on gaining control of these hubs of government and is likely to go on for another day at least.
This is what US Central Command deputy operations officer Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks meant by his terse statement that special troops are seizing key points in Baghdad.
The war commander, Gen. Tommy Franks, is quoted by aides as remarking on the two appearances Friday by Saddam Hussein or a double that regardless of whether the Iraqi ruler is in Baghdad or not, alive or dead, the important thing now is to take over his command and control centers of government and military with all speed. Once this is accomplished, the war will have been won.
Therefore, the scenes in Baghdad depicted Saturday did not represent the battle for the capital but for Saddam’s underground regime centers. And indeed, in the early afternoon of Saturday, correspondents reported that US forces had suddenly disappeared from the streets.
The first of these underground cities was reached when the US forces took over Baghdad International Airport Thursday, April 3, and plunged into a vast underground labyrinth accessed at the tip of the outer runway. Another such facility is located to the north, known as the “Northern Palace.
More like self-contained underground cities, these compounds take up areas of between 7 and 10 sq.km, with their own internal systems of up to 7 km of road. The two airport palaces are linked by an underground expressway.
Regarding the “non-conventional” threat Iraqi information minister Muhammad al-Saeef issued Friday, April 14, debkafile‘s military correspondents interpret it as referring to a plan for Iraqi troops to leap out of these underground labyrinths and overwhelm the American units. A day later, on Saturday, the Iraqi minister claimed the plan had come off and Iraqi forces had pushed the American units out and retaken the international airfield. Whether or not this is true, American and Iraqi troops were undoubtedly locked in combat at the airfield Saturday
The other two palace-cities have been tunneled under the streets of Baghdad – one under the upscale Karah neighborhood with Saddam’s own private airstrip attached; the second running under the Dora district south of the Tigris and Baghdad University. Some intelligence sources are sure that the two are also linked by a highway running under the river. The US 3rd Infantry and 101st Airborne Divisions tanks thundering through the streets of Baghdad Saturday morning were on their way to the Karah Palace. So too were the Special Republic Guards forces, ordered to defend Karah with their lives.
debkafile‘s military sources report that a fifth buried palace – this one situated outside Baghdad, southeast of Saddam’s home town of Tikrit – was also being fought over Saturday.
This regime center was placed under siege Thursday night, April 3, when elements of the 101st Airborne Division seized control of the northbound Tikrit-Mosul highway while troops of the 82nd Airborne Division came up from the west and cut the Baghdad-Tikrit highway. Saturday morning, the two American forces moved in to tighten the noose around Saddam’s underground center near Tikrit.
It looks as though Tommy Franks, amid the hype and misdirection, is forging ahead with his preconceived war plan, step by step.

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