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Operating Under a Special Mission - 2003-03-28

U.S. and British Special Operations soldiers are playing a major role in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. VOA-TV’s Chris Simkins with more on just what these Special Forces have been up to since the war with Iraq began.

Operating in secret, Special Operations forces enter Iraq. Even before the formal start of the war last week these highly trained soldiers have been on a variety of crucial missions.

In just a week U.S. special operations soldiers have been the first units to seize and control large strategic sections of the country. One of their first jobs was to hunt for Iraq’s SCUD missiles and storage sites for its alleged chemical and biological weapons. In another key mission special ops soldiers secured all major Iraqi oil fields in the south and in the north. They had to move fast because Iraqi forces had set some of the oil wells on fire.

In the western part of the country U.S. and British commandos, in huge parachute operations, seized two key airfields in the desert.

The airfields known as H3 is to become the main airbase for America forces in Western Iraq. Military analysts say securing the base will open the door for thousands of troops and equipment to pressure Iraqi forces protecting Baghdad.

Brigadier General Vincent Brooks, a spokesman for coalition forces says special operations units are now concentrating on destroying Iraqi military leadership compounds.

“The coalition Special Operations forces continue to their actions throughout over Iraq. A particularly effective operation occurred last night in al-Nasiriyah involving special operations aircraft destroying two paramilitary headquarters.”

U.S. special operations forces have taken over strategically important airfields in Kurdish controlled territory. About one thousand American paratroopers have taken up positions with some ten thousand Kurdish forces near the Iranian border.

They are attacking positions of Ansar al-Islam; an Islamic group the U.S. military believes has ties to the al-Qaeda terrorist organization.

Special forces soldiers are using a drone spy plane, equipped with a video camera, to locate Ansar al-Islam fighters. It gives commanders live pictures of the battlefield in order for them to direct air strikes against the Islamic fighters.

“When you look at some of the ridgelines they are very open. It is actually pretty easy to spot people up on the ridgelines and their positions.”

U.S. Special Force commanders say they have the bulk of the Ansar al-Islam fighters on the run towards the Iranian border. But they say it could be days before they consider these hillsides secure for more coalition forces to move in.