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Update - Iraq
27 September 1999
Kia ora, this week is the International Week of Action to Stop the War Against Iraq. The main focus of the week of action is to try and get the genocidal economic sanctions lifted; but a secondary focus is of course the continued random bombing raids by US and British war planes. As you will see in the article below, there have now been 12,561bombing raids since December 1998.
Iraqi warplanes engage US and British bombers: Baghdad
BAGHDAD, Sept 14 (AFP) - Iraqi warplanes and anti-aircraft guns swung into action Tuesday to force US and British flying over the south of the country to flee Iraqi airspace, a military spokesman in Baghdad said.
"The falcons of the sky (Iraqi warplanes) and anti-aircraft defences challenged the enemy and forced them to flee to their bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait," he said, quoted by the official INA agency.
He said the allied planes "attacked a civilian installation in the province of Basra and overflew Zhi-Qar, Muthanna, Nejaf and Qadisiya."
He said the latest missions brought the total of sorties by US and British planes to 12,561 since December's intensive bombing campaign after Baghdad refused to cooperate with international weapons inspectors.
Clashes pitting Iraqi air defences against US and British planes have taken place on an almost daily basis since the two Western allies waged their December 17-19 air war on Iraq.
It is rare for Iraqi planes to engage in defensive manoeuvres, however, with most Iraqi challenges carried out by ground defences.
The US military announced earlier Tuesday that US warplanes had bombed two military radar sites in southern Iraq in retaliation for Iraqi violations of a no-fly zone.
The US Central Command in Macdill, Florida said land-based F-16s and carrier-based F-14 and F-18 fighters fired precision-guided munitions to strike the sites near the town of Qalat Salih and on the Faw peninsula.
"The strikes were in response to three incidents earlier today of Iraqi aircraft violating the southern no-fly zone," it said in a statement received in Dubai.
"Each of these radar sites was targeted to further degrade Iraq's ability to jeopardise" US and British warplanes patrolling the southern exclusion zone which stretches to the outskirts of the Iraqi capital.
Two Iraqi fighters violated the zone again during the strikes but "coalition aircraft engaged the aircraft," the US military said. "However they turned and flew out of the no-fly zone."
The US and British aircraft returned safely to their bases, it said, stressing that "coalition planes do not target civilian populations or infrastructure."
The latest strikes were "an appropriate response to the continued pattern of Iraqi provocation," the Central Command said.
There was no immediate word from Baghdad on the latest attacks. Nineteen Iraqis were killed in air strikes on August 17, the Iraqi military said.
Baghdad does not recognise the southern no-fly zone nor a similar exclusion zone in northern Iraq, both of which were set up after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Iraqi Kurds and Shiites.
The United States on Monday accused Baghdad of continuing a repressive campaign against both groups and said it was pushing for the indictment of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on war crimes charges.
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
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