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[casi] All foreign diplomats expected to leave by Feb. 15

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Hello all,
here's another disturbing piece.
Dirk Adriaensens

Baghdad embassies closing in weeks
All foreign diplomats expected to leave by Feb. 15

Most foreign diplomatic officials are planning to clear out of Baghdad and close down embassies and 
consulates by Feb. 15, a senior Indian official tells Dubai's Gulf News.

The paper quoted the official as saying ''the decision has been taken by the diplomats, keeping in 
mind the safety and security of the diplomatic staff and their families,'' after receiving mixed 
signals on when the war is likely to start.

''Safety is their overriding concern,'' he added. ''They do not expect anything to happen until the 
annual Haj pilgrimage is over,'' he said.

The official, who was in Baghdad earlier this week, said diplomats in the Iraqi capital believed 
that with the U.S. bombing of Iraq likely to begin by Feb. 15, it would be best for the
missions to close.

He said there had been a similar exodus of the diplomatic corps from Baghdad in the wake of the 
allied attack on Iraq in January 1991.

He also said that the residents of Baghdad had been given strict instructions by government 
officials that in the event of an attack they must all stay indoors.

''They have been told that when the bombing begins, they must not venture outside, and that their 
food and provisions will be delivered to them,'' the Indian source told the Gulf News.

In addition, the people of Baghdad have been warned that unlike the last time around when allied 
forces stopped at Safwan, U.S. soldiers are likely to enter the city, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Russia's armed forces have obtained information that the United 
States and its allies have already decided to launch military action in Iraq from

The news agency Interfax's specialist military news wire AVN, quoting an unnamed high-ranking 
source in the Russian general staff, said U.S.-led operations would be launched once an attacking 
force of 150,000 had been assembled in the Gulf.

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