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Special forces already in Iraq

Washington, Feb. 13 (Reuters): Small units of elite US Special Operations forces are busily operating inside several areas of Iraq to lay the foundation for a possible invasion of the country, US and defence officials said today.

The officials confirmed a report in The Washington Post that the shadowy, highly trained forces were stepping up contacts with Opposition groups and helping plan for rapid seizure of large portions of Iraq should US President George W. Bush gives the order to go to war.

US intelligence, meanwhile, has detected movement by the Iraqi military of large amounts of explosives into southern Iraq, perhaps to destroy oil wells in the event of a sweep northward by more than 50,000 US troops already in Kuwait, according to the officials, who asked not to be identified.

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