Iraqi Troops Get Ready

CAROUSEL - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. discusses health care during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 23, 2009. AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke

Unless Saddam Hussein reverses course or is ousted by a coup, senior officials say the final battle could begin just a day or two after the president's ultimatum expires.

As CBS News Correspondent David Martin reports, there are now a quarter million American troops in position for the start of the war. 150,000 of them are in Kuwait, where U.N. observers completed their pull out from the border area and the U.S. embassy told all Americans to get out.

"We're telling them they should leave. We're urging them in the strongest possible terms to leave Kuwait," says U.S. embassy spokesman John Moran.

The Iraqi military is gearing up to make the American march on Baghdad as costly as possible.

Five of the six republican guards divisions, Saddam's best fighting units, have now left their garrisons and dispersed in what appears to be an effort to ride out.

The initial wave of air attacks could include as many as 600 cruise missiles in the first 24 hours.

Intercepted communications indicate one division southeast of Baghdad is about to be issued chemical weapons to be used against the invaders, although officials say the weapons themselves have not yet been spotted.

Trenches have been dug and in some cases filled with oil all the way from the Fao peninsula in the south to Mosul in the north. A satellite photo taken two weeks ago shows trenches near the town of Kirkuk. Pentagon officials say many of them are located near schools and mosques and predict the Iraqis will light them off and claim the fires were set by the Americans.

In the southern oil fields, U.S. aircraft have spotted a 2000-yard oil spill, which could be the start of another tactic designed to slow American troops.

So far, U.S. officials say, none of the Iraqi preparations pose a serious enough threat to American forces to justify launching the attack before the ultimatum expires, but they do not rule out the possibility that this war, could start ahead of schedule.
  • Sue Chan

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