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Six week war window

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Allies have six-week window to bomb Iraq

PENTAGON chiefs have pinpointed a six-week "window of opportunity" in which to launch a war against Iraq.

Officials are now openly brief-ing diplomats that they "want to light the blue touchpaper".

If a blitz is authorised, all the signs point to a December 16 start—with the "window" stretching beyond Christmas until the end of January. Cool clear weather and long winter nights would be ideally suited for a hi-tech bombing campaign.

Planes and troops could move under the cover of darkness, minimising the risk of casualties.

The campaign would involve hundreds of jets— including British warplanes—cruise missiles and stealth bombers.

The Americans plan to pound Iraq for a month before launching a massive ground invasion from Kuwait in the south and Turkey in the north.

British and Irish diplomats based in Washington were called in last week for the latest update in the plans.

They will be raised in a special House of Commons debate tomorrow.

The government are also expected to call out the Territorial Army to provide emergency cover during the fire dispute—replacing army units currently manning Green Goddesses.

American special forces are secretly training more than 5,000 Iraqi rebels to spearhead their planned invasion.

Senior Pentagon sources have confirmed the dissidents will be ready to join American and British troops within the next two months.

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has until December 8 to disclose how many weapons of mass destruction he has.

America is expected to immediately accuse him of lying. And an immediate attack would be triggered if UN weapons inspectors currently in Baghdad find Saddam has tried to deceive them.

The rebel army—made up of Kurdish rebels from Northern Iraq, Marsh Arabs from the south and military defectors from the elite Republican Guard—has been training in Kuwait since August.

The Kuwaiti government, which last week turned almost half its country into a closed-off US military base, has funded the creation of the force.

As the threat of war grew closer, British and American warplanes hit targets in southern Iraq for the third successive day on Friday.

The strike came after an Iraqi military jet flew into a no-fly zone monitored by Allied planes.

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