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US SUX - Jets bomb key Iraqi air base

  1. klown

    3,363 Posts.

    IRAQ’S main air base near its border with Jordan was bombed by US and British jets yesterday, in a move designed to seriously undermine the ability of Saddam Hussein’s military to defend the country.

    Some 100 aircraft took part in the operation against the air defence command post at Iraq’s H-3 airbase, 240 miles to the west of Baghdad, using precision guided munitions.

    The US central command said it was assessing the results of the raid.

    Only 12 aircraft actually fired weapons, with the remainder acting as a protective screen against any intervention by Iraqi fighter jets and missile batteries, military sources said.

    The Pentagon said the raid - the largest air operation against Iraq since Operation Desert Fox in 1998 - was launched in "response to recent Iraqi hostile acts against coalition aircraft monitoring the southern no-fly zone".

    "This calendar year there have been more than 130 separate incidents of Iraqi surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery fire directed against coalition aircraft," a US military spokesman said.

    The Ministry of Defence in London refused to confirm the participation of the RAF, but military sources said that Tornado bombers and reconnaissance aircraft based in Kuwait played a key role in the raid.

    The attack on what the US described as an "air defence command and control facility", indicated that the Americans and British are stepping up the pressure on Baghdad by striking at western Iraq for the first time in the no fly zone campaign. Up until yesterday, all previous air strikes had been against air defence sites in southern Iraq, around Basra, Amara, Nassairya and up towards Baghdad.

    By hitting the main command post of the Iraqi air defence command in western Iraq, the US air force and the RAF were clearly trying to open up safe routes for their aircraft into Iraqi air space from the west and north, in possible preparation for a major attack.

    Blinding the Iraqi air defences in this key strategic region would also help special forces teams to slip into the country unobserved by helicopter.

    Yesterday, a top Pentagon official confirmed that the US army had moved heavy armour, ammunition and other equipment from its huge store in Qatar to Kuwait as part of its continuing logistic build up in Emirate.

    Thomas White, the US army secretary, said: "We have done a lot with pre-positioned stocks in the Gulf, making sure they’re accessible and that they’re in the right spot to support whatever the president wants to do.

    "But we’ve done nothing specifically against any particular scenario" for war, Mr White added.

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