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U.S., British planes bomb Iraqi installations

Monday, September 16, 2002

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S. and British warplanes bombed Iraqi installations in the southern no-fly zone Sunday, an Iraqi military spokesman told Iraq's official news agency.

The agency report did not say if the early morning raid in Dhi Qar province, about 210 miles south of Baghdad, caused any damage or casualties.

The U.S. military confirmed the attack.

A statement released by U.S. Central Command headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida said coalition aircraft responded to Iraqi ground fire by launching precision-guided weapons to strike an air defense communications facility.

The Iraqi spokesman told the official agency U.S. and British warplanes bombed "civil and service installations."

"Our heroic missiles and anti-aircraft units fired at the aircraft, forcing them to flee back to Kuwaiti territories," the spokesman said without providing further details.

Sunday's raids brought to 38 the number of strikes reported this year by the U.S. and British coalition formed to patrol northern and southern Iraqi zones after the 1991 Gulf War. The last attack was Sept. 9.

The latest strikes also come three days after President Bush told the U.N. General Assembly that Baghdad must grant access to U.N. weapons inspectors or face confrontation. Bush accuses Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction and sponsoring terrorists, and says he must be toppled.

Arab leaders oppose a U.S. attack against Iraq, but want Baghdad to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions concerning weapons inspections and disarmament to avert any conflict with America.

Attacks and counterattacks in the no-fly zones have been ongoing for several years. The numbers ebb and flow, and the Pentagon says there is no particular increase now.

Iraq considers the patrols a violation of its sovereignty and frequently shoots at the planes with anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles. In response, coalition pilots try to bomb Iraqi air defense systems.


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