Iraqi President Saddam Hussein visited troops on the front lines in southern Iraq and Kuwait and his commanders told him the allies fear a ground war, the official Iraqi News Agency said Thursday.

Baghdad radio reported that allied warplanes attacked two Iraqi tankers in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday and that large quantities of oil spilled into the sea. Western military officers in Bahrain and oil company and shipping sources in the gulf said they were unaware of any spill.Iran's news agency, meanwhile, said the allies continued to pound southern Iraq with bombs and missiles.

Saddam visited the front line along southern Iraq and Kuwait on Wednesday, the Iraqi News Agency said.

After reporting to Saddam on war developments, "the commanders said that because of his (the enemy's) cowardice and fear of combat with the land forces, the enemy tried to avoid establishing any serious contact and preoccupied itself, for the benefit of public opinion, with bombing from high altitudes," the agency said.

It quoted Saddam as saying the battle would be decided by Iraq's superior willpower and patience. "It is only a matter of time before the enemy becomes convinced it has done all it can and that the Iraqis are determined to confront it and triumph over it," he was quoted as saying.

"The material losses suffered by Iraq can only be compensated by a victory," he was quoted as saying.

The Iraqi News Agency said that as of Tuesday, 90 Iraqi troops had been killed by allied bombing of Iraq and Kuwait.