US: Military Operation in Iraq to Take One Month

The USA believes that military action against Iraq, if need be, will not take more than a month, said an American diplomat in a conversation with Russian journalists in Moscow.

The military phase of the ground operation, if it starts, will be conducted on one or two fronts, the Southern and the Northern. "If Turkey's stand prevents us from launching an attack from the north, the troops will go only from the south, and also from the west," he said.

The operation aimed at removing Saddam Hussein from power will definitely last more than three-four days, unlike in 1991, the diplomat said. Yet, the USA expects to complete it within a month. The US troops believe that their most serious rival will be Hussein's Republican guards who will fight up to the last ditch. America, however, is not afraid of the Iraqi armed forces or a large-scale guerilla war, the diplomat announced.

The USA also expects that the Kurds living in the north of Iraq will remain neutral and will not "deal a stab in the back" to the coalition's army, he added.

According to American forecasts, the death toll may amount to several hundred among the civilians, several thousand among the Iraqi military and several dozen of US servicemen.

"Numerous casualties among American soldiers and officers will not be acceptable for the USA," the diplomat said, pointing out that "numerous casualties" implied several hundred people.

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