WASHINGTON — The senior U.S. commander in Iraq has moved to limit the military's allowable interrogation tactics, the Pentagon revealed Friday, eliminating most coercive techniques from even being considered.

The order from Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez on Thursday let military intelligence chiefs know that requests for such methods — which had been allowed with specific permission since September — would now be turned down, officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

In its most comprehensive outline to date of the methods approved for interrogators questioning Iraqis detained by the Americans, the Pentagon said Sanchez had approved 25 requests to isolate prisoners for interrogation since mid-October.

But he turned down requests to put prisoners into uncomfortable positions to get them to talk, officials said.

Amid an international uproar over the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib near Baghdad, senior military officials also insisted that all interrogation techniques that have been approved have been allowable under international law.

Techniques such as direct questioning without any physical contact still remain allowable without approval from high-level officers, said the officials, who are involved in the process of drafting and approving such rules in Iraq.

More stressful techniques required — until Thursday — approval from Sanchez. Those included depriving detainees of sleep for more than 72 hours, putting them in "sensory deprivation," or forcing them into "stress positions" such as kneeling or standing uncomfortably for more than 45 minutes.

On Thursday, Sanchez told military intelligence officers that he would not approve any stressful techniques other than putting prisoners alone in cells or in segregated units with only a small number of other detainees.

Some Democrats in Congress and other critics have said the interrogation rules — first laid out in September after a visit to Iraq by the then-commander of the prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — amounted to a green light for abuse. Pentagon officials heatedly denied that, saying prisoners are always treated under the guidelines of the Geneva Conventions.

"That standard is being followed in Guantanamo and in Iraq," said Lawrence DiRita, the chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

But some members of Congress and legal experts say some of the techniques discussed Friday are violations of the conventions, which are the core of the international law of war.

They cite language in the section of the Geneva Conventions that Pentagon officials agree applies to all detainees in Iraq. That language prohibits "physical or moral coercion" against prisoners, "in particular to obtain information from them or from third parties."

"It's obvious that some of the things we're talking about are coercion: putting people in stressful conditions, sleep deprivation for substantial periods of time, hooding," said lawyer and human rights expert Sidney S. Rosdeitcher. "Those things are plainly coercion."

The two military officials who briefed reporters anonymously included one who is a military lawyer. Both refused to answer questions about how the approved techniques comply with the Geneva Conventions.

The approved techniques generally involve interrogators trying to psychologically manipulate prisoners. They include approaches familiar to television police dramas:

— Telling prisoners they will get better treatment — such as better food or roomier cells — if they cooperate.

— Suggesting that interrogators already know everything, so the detainee might as well talk.

— Repeating questions over and over.

— Staying silent.

— Playing on the prisoner's pride and ego.