CAIRO, AUG. 14 -- Syrian troops were expected to arrive in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to join 3,000 Egyptian soldiers as part of an Arab military force mandated by the Arab League to defend the oil-rich desert kingdom against a possible attack by Iraqi forces occupying neighboring Kuwait.
U.S., British and other international forces also continued to arrive and take up positions to protect the Arabian Peninsula and its oil fields.
Diplomatic sources in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, were quoted by the Associated Press as saying the first Syrian units landed early this morning in northeast Saudi Arabia.
However, officials in Damascus, the Syrian capital, and Washington would not confirm the troop movement reports from Riyadh.
Syrian President Hafez Assad is a longtime, bitter enemy of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, and supported Iran in its eight-year war with Iraq. But Syria and the United States have long been at odds over Assad's harboring of terrorists and the presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon.
John Kelly, assistant secretary of state for Middle East affairs, met in Damascus today with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Charaa and said in a statement afterward that the two had discussed "the importance of the U.N. Security Council's resolutions" calling for a worldwide economic embargo on Iraq because of its invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2 and subsequent annexation of the emirate.
In the latest indication that the U.N. embargo was beginning to affect Iraqi trade, authorities in the United Arab Emirates refused permission for an Iraqi freighter, despite repeated appeals from the captain, to enter the port of Dubai. The al-Abid stood anchored three miles outside the Dubai breakwater, shipping sources told the Associated Press. Another Iraqi freighter also waited off Dubai, the sources said.
Diplomatic sources in the United Arab Emirates told the AP that the country's ports had quietly stopped accepting Iraqi tankers or freighters, but the government has made no announcement.
Roads in Saudi Arabia near Hafar Batin, about 60 miles southwest of the Kuwaiti border, were reported to be clogged with troops from the multinational forces as they poured into the region to take up defensive positions near a major Saudi air base. At least 10,000 American soldiers are reported to be in Saudi Arabia, and huge transport planes were ferrying in troops and supplies at the rate of one plane every 10 minutes, according to the U.S. military command in Saudi Arabia.
Military sources here said another contingent of Egyptian army commandos would be airlifted into Saudi Arabia early Wednesday.
One senior Egyptian military intelligence official said that, depending on the Saudis' requests, the Cairo command was prepared to send three or four divisions, including armored and mechanized infantry divisions.
Defense officials in Cairo said that Morocco had received funding from Saudi Arabia for the past two years to train and equip a unit of 7,000 troops with the understanding that the troops would be available to the Saudis if needed, the Los Angeles Times reported. It is anticipated that many or all of those forces will be deployed in the Saudi desert, the officials said.
In addition, Pakistan is expected to send 5,000 soldiers to join the multinational force, army sources in Islamabad told Reuter. Pakistani officials were reportedly reluctant to become heavily involved in the gulf crisis because about 100,000 Pakistanis live in Iraq and Kuwait and because of recently increased tensions between Pakistan and India.
Turkey's chances of surviving the international trade embargo against Iraq, one of its major trading partners, without suffering a massive blow to its own economy improved today when Kuwaiti Crown Prince Saad Abdullah Salim Sabah visited Turkish President Turgut Ozal in Ankara to discuss compensation for lost revenue.
Saad thanked Ozal for stopping delivery of Iraqi crude oil from two pipelines connecting Iraq's Kirkuk oil fields to Yumurtalik, a Turkish port on the Mediterranean. The pipelines had a combined daily capacity of 1.6 million barrels -- half of Iraq's normal crude output.
Turkish presidential spokesman Kaya Toperi told reporters that the amount of compensation was not discussed, but Kuwait is thought to be willing at least to pay Turkey the $250 million in transit revenues it receives from Iraq annually.
Iraq is Turkey's second-largest trading partner and supplies nearly 60 percent of its oil. If Turkey cuts off all trade with Iraq it would lose about $2.5 billion dollars per year.
The Saudi Arabian ambassador to Ankara, Abdullaziz Khojah, meanwhile, said that his country will sell Turkey enough crude oil, at discount prices, to make up for any shortfall that would result from an embargo on Iraq.
Other compensation from the West in the form of reduced tariffs and lowered interest rates on Turkish military purchases is also reportedly being discussed.
The al-Baath newspaper, the official organ of Syria's ruling Baath Party, scoffed at the peace "initiative" Saddam presented on Sunday in which the Iraqi president attempted to link his withdrawal from Kuwait to an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories and a Syrian pullout from Lebanon.
"What logic is it that equates the Israeli occupation and Syria's presence in Lebanon with what is happening in the gulf? What has been called an initiative is a delusion and empty words," the official newspaper said.
The son of Iran's late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, meanwhile, called Saddam a "modern-times replica of Hitler" and condemned the invasion of Kuwait.
Ahmad Khomeini, a Moslem cleric who lived for years with his father in exile in Iraq before the ayatollah moved to Paris in 1978, said that if Iraq is allowed to retain control of Kuwait, "no state in the region will have a happy day ahead."
An Iraqi opposition leader based in Iran claimed he could mobilize 100,000 expatriates to fight Saddam, Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency reported. It quoted Muhammad Baqer Hakim, head of the Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq.
A mine alert was issued today for a central Persian Gulf channel where a U.S. warship had reported spotting an Iraqi freighter acting "suspiciously" but was later canceled, gulf shipping sources said.
Meanwhile, diplomats said at least 12 Iraqi soldiers defected from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia in tanks they drove across the border.
Special correspondent Thomas Goltz contributed from Ankara.