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US, UK jets attack Iraq air defences

  1. US, UK jets attack Iraq air defences
    Sep 6 12:22
    AFP

    About 100 US and British aircraft took part in an attack on a major Iraqi air defence installation, in the biggest single operation over the country for four years, Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Friday.

    The raid on Thursday appeared to be a prelude to possible special forces operations before any US-led war on Iraq, which Washington accuses of developing weapons of mass destruction, the newspaper said.

    The aim seemed to be the removal of air defences to allow easy access for special forces helicopters to fly into Iraq via Jordan or Saudi Arabia to hunt down Scud missiles before a possible war within the next few months, the Telegraph reported.

    Twelve warplanes dropped precision-guided bombs in the raid, but scores of other support aircraft also took part, the paper said, adding that it was the first time a target in western Iraq had been attacked during air patrols of the southern no-fly zone.

    The US military said in a statement on Thursday that US and British warplanes bombed "an air defence command and control facility at a military airfield 380 kilometres west and slightly south of Baghdad" in response to "recent Iraqi hostile acts".

    Meanwhile, an Iraqi military spokesman said that US and British warplanes had bombed civilian installations south-west of Baghdad, without causing any casualties.

    The fighter jets flew back to their bases in Kuwait after coming under Iraqi anti-aircraft missile fire, the spokesman added.

    Iraq does not recognise the air exclusion zones over its north and south which Britain and the United States have enforced since the end of the 1991 Gulf War, following failed uprisings in those regions by the country's Shiite and Kurdish minorities.

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    The zones are not sanctioned by any UN resolution and Iraq says almost 1,500 Iraqis have been killed as a result of the flights since 1991.

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