Marines from Camp Pendleton are deploying north through the Saudi desert in recent days as the Jan. 15 United Nations deadline for Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait approaches, it was reported Friday.
The road to Kuwait is jammed with Marine Corps vehicles loaded with troops from Camp Pendleton and heading north to an area behind front-line positions occupied by Saudi troops and units from other Arab nations, a San Diego Tribune dispatch from Saudi Arabia said.
Marine helicopters are also regularly seen flying north, the report said.
The Pentagon declined comment Friday, but the newspaper said Marine officials in Saudi Arabia said the troop movements were to make room for another Marine division arriving from the United States.
"We are relocating units to make room for the new division," a Marine officer said.
The new division, made up mainly of units from the eastern United States, will occupy the former positions of the West Coast Marine, the officer said.
The Marines moving toward Kuwait will be the closest to the occupying Iraqi forces if war breaks out after the Jan. 15 deadline, but the newspaper noted that a frontal assault against fortified positions is considered unlikely.