BAGHDAD, Iraq – The Russian government had sources inside the American military command as the U.S. mounted the invasion of Iraq, and the Russians passed information to Saddam Hussein on troop movements and plans, according to Iraqi documents released as part of a Pentagon report.
The Russians relayed information to Saddam during the opening days of the 2003 war, including a crucial moment before the assault on Baghdad, according to the documents in the report Friday.
The unclassified report does not assess the value of the information or provide details beyond citing two captured Iraqi documents that say the Russians collected information from sources "inside the American Central Command" and that battlefield intelligence was provided to Saddam through the Russian ambassador in Baghdad.
A classified version of the Pentagon report, titled "Iraqi Perspectives Project," is not being made public.
In Moscow, a duty officer with Russia's Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report late Friday evening. No one answered the phones at the Defense Ministry.
At Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla., officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli declined to comment.
The Pentagon report cited two captured Iraqi documents on the matter of Russian intelligence, and the report also directly asserted that the intelligence link existed.
"Significantly, the regime was also receiving intelligence from the Russians that fed suspicions that the attack out of Kuwait was merely a diversion," the report's authors wrote. They cited as an example a document that was sent to Saddam on March 24, 2003, and captured by the U.S. military after Baghdad fell.
The document said: "The information that the Russians have collected from their sources inside the American Central Command in Doha is that the United States is convinced that occupying Iraqi cities are impossible," and that as a result the U.S. military would avoid urban combat.
Central Command's war-fighting headquarters is at an encampment in the desert just outside Doha, Qatar.