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AMERICAN military strategy has been thrown into chaos by Turkey's refusal to let in their troops.

President George Bush hoped to station 62,000 US soldiers in the country to lead a northern attack on Iraq.

But the Turkish parliament rejected the American request - leaving military planners with a major headache just weeks before the war looks set to begin.

Washington had been so sure that it would gain support that dozens of cargo ships carrying armour were already waiting off the Turkish coast. Jeeps and trucks had even been landed in the country.

Strategists claim an assault from Turkey across the border into Iraq would lead to a shorter and less bloody war.

The northern front is so crucial to war plans that US negotiators spent three months in talks with Turkish officials, offering dollars 15 billion in aid.

But Turkish public opinion is overwhelmingly against a war.

Despite lobbying by secretary of state Colin Powell, legislators failed to approve the measure by just three votes. And there are no plans to hold a second ballot.

The northern plan called for the troops to quickly take the oil-rich cities of Mosul and Kirkuk.

Warwick University's Middle East expert Toby Dodge said last night: "The idea is to seize as much territory as possible.

"If the US could not launch from Turkey it would be a major, although not fatal, blow."
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:7TURK
Date:Mar 4, 2003
Next Article:BOMBERS PAVE WAY FOR WAR; Jets get `aggressive' in Iraqi no-fly zones.

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