Iraq says it isn't afraid of latest U.S. threats

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Associated Press WriterBAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq isn't afraid of U.S. threats and is ready to defend itself against any attack, the Iraqi government said Tuesday.

President Bush warned Monday that Iraq and North Korea would face consequences if they produce weapons of mass destruction. He urged Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to allow arms inspectors back into the country "to prove to the world he's not developing weapons of mass destruction."

Baghdad has refused until U.N. sanctions are lifted, and some White House advisers, including former aides to Bush's father during the 1991 Gulf War to free Kuwait from Iraqi occupation, are pushing Bush to make Iraq his next target in the war against terrorism.

On Tuesday, Iraq said it was prepared to defend itself. Iraq "will not be terrified by any arrogant party," the official Iraqi News Agency quoted a government spokesman as saying.

Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa said Tuesday that a U.S. attack on any Arab country as part of its war on terrorism would be a "fatal mistake."

Syria has long been on the State Department list of nations suspected of sponsoring terrorism, but was not singled out in Bush's warning.

Still, "any threat against an Arab country is rejected, and a military attack against any Arab country will lead to endless problems," al-Sharaa said in Lebanon. "America knows that and Europe knows that. I believe it will be a fatal mistake to harm any Arab country."

In Cairo, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa told reporters that "striking against any Arab country will be the end of harmony within the international alliance against terrorism."

On Tuesday, the U.S. military said American and British warplanes bombed a military target in southern Iraq in response to threats to coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone.

The attack took place on a command and control site in the province of Nasiriyah, Chief Petty Officer David Nagle of the Riyadh-based Joint Task Force Southwest Asia told The Associated Press. Nasiriyah is 218 miles southeast of Baghdad. All coalition aircraft returned safely to the base, Nagle said.

An unidentified Iraqi military spokesman told Iraqi News Agency that the warplanes, coming from Kuwaiti territory, targeted "civil and service installations" in Nasiriyah, injuring one civilian.

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