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Iraq Denies Troops Are On the Move

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Iraq on Saturday denied allegations that it was moving troops southward and potentially threatening Kuwait.

“There have been no unusual troop movements in southern Iraq,” an unidentified military spokesman told the official Iraqi News Agency.

There have been no changes “in the normal lines used for training our forces throughout Iraq, especially in the south,” he said.

The statement was a response to Kuwaiti allegations Friday that Iraq was reinforcing units in the south. Later, the news agency quoted Iraqi Information Minister Hamid Youssef Hammadi as accusing Kuwait of lying.

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Also Saturday, Kuwaiti Information Minister Saud al Sabah was quoted by Kuwaiti newspapers as saying Iraq had between 150,000 and 180,000 troops deployed about 30 miles north of Kuwait.

On Thursday, Iraqi dissidents based in Jordan had claimed that two brigades of Iraqi special forces, or 6,000 soldiers, had been sent to the southern city of Basra, about 30 miles from the Kuwaiti border.

Kuwait has been wary of Baghdad since Iraq invaded the emirate in 1990. Iraqi forces were driven out by a U.S.-led coalition.

On Tuesday, a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity said Iraqi forces have maintained a rapid pace of training over the past several weeks, presumably to educate new commanders put in place after a recent purge.

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