The Iraqi army has replaced its chief of staff, naming the commander of the elite Republican Guards to the job, according to Thursday's editions of army newspaper, Al-Qadissiya.

The paper did not say when the new chief of staff, Gen. Hussein Rashid, was named to the post. It mentioned Rashid's new title in an account of a graduation he attended at the country's military academy on Wednesday.The newspaper also did not say what happened to Gen. Nizar Al-Khazraji, who had been chief of staff since 1985.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein regularly purges those he perceives as threats, and the Republican Guards are considered Saddam's best troops.

Rashid had also been assistant chief of staff. During the eight-year with Iran, he led a tank division.

He is believed to be from Tikrit, Saddam's birthplace. Many members of Saddam's inner circle are from Tikrit.

The transfer of command is the second known top-level position to change in Iraq in the past two weeks.

Oil Minister Issam Chalabi was fired from his post on Oct. 28 and replaced by Saddam's son-in-law.