Baghdad Says U.S., British Jets Bomb Southern Iraq
April 15, 2002 12:59 PM ET
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq said U.S. and British warplanes struck civilian targets in the south of the country on Monday but no causalities were reported.
An Iraqi military spokesman, quoted by the official Iraqi News Agency INA, said the planes carried out 31 sorties from bases in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia at 11:45 a.m. and 3:05 p.m. on Monday.
"The enemy attacked our civilian and service installations in Nasiriya province," the spokesman said.
In Washington, the military Central Command said U.S. warplanes struck an air defense site in Iraq after aircraft on patrol in the southern no-fly zone encountered hostile Iraqi fire.
The Iraqi military spokesman said Iraqi air defense units fired on the jets and forced them to return to their bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Central Command said all U.S. aircraft returned safely from the area. There was no immediate report of damage on the ground.
U.S. and British jets have been policing no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq for more than a decade. The zones were set up after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Kurds and Shi'ite Muslims from attack by President Saddam Hussein's military.
The last time Iraq reported an attack by U.S. and British planes was on February 28 when they hit targets in the north of the country, injuring three civilians.
The U.S. military said the last coalition strike in the southern no-fly zone was against an Iraqi anti-artillery site on January 21.
The latest attack came amid growing speculation that a U.S. military strike on Baghdad may be imminent. The United States and Britain stress, however, that no decision has been made.
President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair vowed last week to tackle Saddam over the threat they say he poses with weapons of mass destruction, saying inaction was not an option.
Baghdad has refused to allow U.N. weapons inspectors into Iraq since they pulled out in December 1998 on the eve of U.S.- British air strikes aimed at punishing the country for failing to cooperate with the inspectors.
U.S. strike on Iraq radar site
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. and coalition aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone over Iraq struck an air defense radar site after it threatened a U.S. pilot, according to the U.S. Central Command.
The aircraft used precision guided weapons to destroy the target in the attack that took place at about 7:15 a.m. EDT (1115 GMT) on Monday. This is the first coalition strike in the southern no-fly zone since Jan. 21.
To date, Iraq has fired anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles against coalition aircraft on more than 1,000 occasions since December 1998. Iraqi aircraft have violated the southern no-fly zone more than 160 times in that same period.
An Iraqi official told the Iraqi News Agency that American and British "evil planes" coming from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait violated Iraqi air space. There were at least 37 "armed sorties," the news agency said.
Also, the report said that "the enemy" attacked civilian and service installations in the province of Dhiqar, but the forces went back to their bases after anti-air defenses responded to the flights.
-- CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr contributed to this report