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arab nations agree on need to deny support for mil

  1. Arab nations agree on need to deny support for military action

    17.02.2003
    11.00am
    CAIRO - It was necessary for Arab states to deny any kind of support for military action against fellow Arab state Iraq, Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on Sunday said in a final communique

    "(The foreign ministers) affirm the necessity for their countries to refrain from offering any kind of assistance or facilities for any military action that leads to the threat of Iraq's security safety and territorial integrity," the final communique said.

    The ministers also agreed to preserve the security, safety and territorial integrity of Iraq, as well as neighbouring state Kuwait, which Iraq invaded in 1990 and occupied for several months until it was expelled by a US-led coalition.

    "The Arab countries reject aggression on any of them or the threat against the security and safety of any Arab country as a threat against the national security of all Arab countries," the communique said.

    The communique did not specifically mention the United States, which has said time was running for Iraq to come clean on its alleged weapons of mass destruction or face US-led military action. Iraq denies it has such weapons.

    Meanwhile the Iraqi military said aircraft taking part in US-British patrols over "no-fly" zones hit civilian targets in southern Iraq in the sixth strike in nine days.

    The Pentagon confirmed that allied planes had aimed at five sites that could be used for communications in targeting the warplanes patrolling the Iraqi no-fly zones.

    In London, a ministry of defence spokesman said British aircraft were not involved.

    The US military said the strikes, which occurred at around 8:45am EST (4.45 NZT) were made in response to violations of the zones by Iraqi military aircraft.

    An Iraqi air defence spokesman said US and British planes flew more than 100 sorties over large swathes of the south overnight and again on Sunday.

    The spokesman, in a statement, said the planes bombed "civilian installations" in Dhi Qar province, some 230 miles (370 km) south of Baghdad. The statement did not say exactly when the raid took place and did not mention casualties.

    It said air defence forces fired at the planes.

    Baghdad routinely say bombed targets are civilian, allegations disputed by the United States.

    Last week, Washington said the aircraft carried out raids at surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missile batteries.

    The strikes came as US and British forces massed in the Gulf region for a possible invasion of Iraq.

    For months, US and British jets have been increasingly attacking Iraqi air defense missiles, radar and communications in northern and southern no-fly zones of that country.

    The Pentagon statement said the sites were located between Al Kut about 150km southeast of Baghdad and An Nasiriyah, about 275km southeast of the capital, and between Al Kut and Al Basrah about 395km southeast of Baghdad.

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