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Iraq under fire

Irag under fire
U.S. Planes Strike Iraqi Air-Defense Facility
Sat Jul 13, 2:56 PM ET

TAMPA, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. warplanes bombed Iraqi air-defense facilities on Saturday after coalition aircraft patrolling a "no-fly" zone in the south of the country came under fire, the U.S. military said.

Reuters Photo

Reuters Photo
Slideshow: Iraq

In Baghdad, an Iraqi military spokesman said seven people were wounded when U.S. and British warplanes struck civilian targets in the south of the country. The spokesman also said anti-aircraft missile defenses might have hit one of the attacking Western warplanes.

In a statement released from its headquarters in Tampa, Florida, the U.S. Central Command said the warplanes used precision-guided weapons to strike Iraqi air defense facilities in response to Iraqi attacks on coalition aircraft. The site was targeted because it helped direct the Iraqi attacks against the coalition warplanes, according to the statement.

In London, a spokesman for Britain's Ministry of Defense said none of its aircraft were involved in the incident.

U.S. and British jets patrol no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq set up by Western powers after the 1991 Gulf War ( news - web sites). The incident was the latest in a long series of tit-for-tat exchanges in the no-fly zones.

The zones, which the Iraqi government does not recognize, were imposed to protect Shiite Muslims in the south and a Kurdish enclave in the north from possible attack by government forces.

"At 10:00 local time warplanes of the evil American and British administrations flew 30 sorties over several southern Iraqi places using air bases in Kuwait," the Iraqi military spokesman said in a statement carried by the official Iraqi News Agency.

"The criminal American and British warplanes attacked civilian targets in Dhiqar province and wounded seven civilians," he said.

The U.S. Central Command said, "Coalition strikes in the no-fly zones are executed as a self-defense measure in response to hostile Iraqi acts against coalition forces. ... Coalition aircraft never target civilian populations or infrastructure and go to painstaking lengths to avoid injury to civilians or damage to civilian facilities."



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