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Satellite phone use restricted

Associated Press
Published April 3, 2003

Both sides in the Iraq war are now restricting the use of satellite phones.

The U.S. military sees units from an Arab-owned provider with built-in satellite positioning as potentially betraying the location of its units while Iraq's government apparently wants to be able to ferret out American agents and commando units.

Iraqi television on Wednesday carried an official appeal to the population to hand over their satellite phones so it is easier to identify "infiltrating" transmissions.

The Pentagon said Wednesday that U.S. commanders were expanding to all of Iraq a ban on the use of satellite phones from the Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Co. of the United Arab Emirates.

The indefinite ban applies both to U.S. units and the journalists traveling with them, said Marine Lt. Col. David Lapan in Washington.

U.S. commanders had imposed a ban late last week in some areas, calling it temporary and saying they feared the Iraqis could pinpoint the location of front-line units with Thuraya phones.

Unlike other major satellite phones, Thurayas can use the U.S. military's global satellite positioning system, or GPS, for navigation.

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