Some American troops have returned to positions deep inside Iraq, but a senior U.S. military official denied Friday that the move was intended to pressure Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Marine Brig. Gen. Richard I. Neal insisted that the military had moved soldiers back to their most advanced positions in the Euphrates River valley only to be sure they could control the area pending a formal cease-fire agreement.In other gulf-related developments:

- Three U.S. soldiers were awarded the Silver Star for bravery in a ceremony in Kuwait City. They are the first Americans to be so honored in the gulf war.

- The Kuwaiti government temporarily stopped issuing entry visas to journalists, saying there were too many in the emirate for its meager resources to handle.

- A senior Iranian Islamic cleric accused the United States of trying to install a pro-Western government in Iraq and warned against any outside interference there.

- Gen. Colin Powell, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military would study the future of the combat reserves after failing to get some National Guard units battle-ready in time for the gulf war.

- Shiite Muslim rebels claimed Friday that about 2,000 troops of Iraq's Republican Guard surrendered to them near the city of Basra in southern Iraq.

- An Air Force commander told a tearful memorial service at Hurlburt Field, Fla., the deaths of 14 Air Commandos occurred in a heroic effort to knock out an Iraqi missile battery that was threatening U.S. Marines.

The airmen died Jan. 31 when their AC-130 Spectre gunship was hit and plunged into the Persian Gulf about a half mile off the Kuwait-Saudi Arabia border. It was the largest single loss of the air war against Iraq.

- The Air Force's top general declared Friday that the allied air war against Iraq marked "the first time in history that a field army has been defeated by air power."

"They just ran into a buzz saw. . . .It's not that they were a featherweight opponent, they just picked on the wrong guy," said Gen. Merrill McPeak, the Air Force chief of staff.

- U.S. Ambassador Edward Gnehm said Friday the Kuwaiti government has assured him that those responsible for beating Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Iraqi troops will be punished.

Gnehm said Kuwaiti and American authorities are examining reports of the post-war violence, which he attributed to independent groups in the newly liberated emirate.

- Two children of an American servicewoman stationed in Saudi Arabia were among five people killed when a car was struck by a train in Columbus, Miss., authorities said Friday.

- U.S. military personnel in Egypt, Israel and parts of Turkey are being added to those allowed to send mail home free of charge, the U.S. Postal Service said Friday.

The free mail privilege has been available to service personnel participating in Operation Desert Storm since last September. Also included are personnel hospitalized as a result of injuries associated with service in the gulf.