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Coalition Aircrews Target Iraqi No-Fly Zone Violations

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2003 – While world attention focuses on the looming possibility of war with Iraq, American and coalition aircrews patrolling the Northern and Southern No-fly zones over that country face potential conflict with the Iraqi military every day.

Coalition aircraft used precision-guided weapons March 2 to strike four Iraqi military communications facilities and an air-defense facility, according to a U.S. Central Command news release. Central Command, headquartered in Tampa, Fla., is responsible for military operations in most of the Persian Gulf area.

CENTCOM officials reported the Iraqi communications facilities were located at Al Kut, about 95 miles southeast of Baghdad, while the air- defense facility was near Al Basrah, roughly 245 miles southeast of Baghdad. Officials are still determining the extent of the damage.

In other strikes, coalition aircraft hit Iraqi military communication sites March 1 near An Numinayah, about 70 miles southeast of Baghdad, and a mobile early-warning radar near An Nasiriyah, about 170 miles southeast of Baghdad.

They struck these sites after Iraqi forces fired anti-aircraft artillery earlier in the day at coalition aircraft supporting Operation Southern Watch. They struck the radar after Iraqi forces moved a related highly mobile surface-to-air missile system into the Southern No-fly Zone, according to CENTCOM.

Coalition forces also dropped leaflets in both the Northern and Southern No-fly zones over the weekend. U.S. European Command officials said this is the first time such leaflets were dropped in the northern zone.

EUCOM, headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the Northern No-fly Zone. A March 1 EUCOM release said Operation Northern Watch aircraft from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, dropped about 240,000 of the leaflets on sites northeast of Mosul that have a history of firing on coalition aircraft with the aid of anti-aircraft radar. The EUCOM release also details the messages on the leaflets that were dropped.

"Do not track or fire on coalition aircraft," the front states in Arabic. The back reads, "Any hostile action by Iraqi air defenses toward coalition aircraft will be answered by immediate retaliation. Iraqi air defense positions which fire on coalition aircraft or activate air defense radar will be attacked and destroyed."

To view the leaflets dropped on northern Iraq, go to http://www.eucom.mil/Directorates/ECPA/News/index.htm.

Six different types of leaflets were dropped into southern Iraq early March 1, CENTCOM officials reported. Three contained information on how Iraqis can tune to radio news and information that coalition forces are broadcasting via U.S. Commando Solo aircraft. The broadcasts contain information about U.S. Security Council Resolution 1441 and Saddam Hussein's atrocities.

Other leaflets were aimed at Iraqi troops, telling them not to position weapon systems near national landmarks and urging troops not to fight coalition forces. A leaflet tells soldiers, "Leave now, go home, and learn, grow, prosper."

Yet another leaflet reflects the American wish to not harm Iraqi civilians, whom Hussein has used as "human shields" in the past. "Coalition forces do not wish to harm the noble people of Iraq," this leaflet states in Arabic. "To ensure your safety, avoid areas occupied by military personnel."

To see images and translations of the leaflets dropped over southern Iraq, visit the U.S. Central Command's Web site at http://www.centcom.mil/Galleries/leaflets/20030301.htm.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAirman 1st Class Brandon Pride pulls the safety pin to arm a Joint Direct Attack Munition, a precision-guided 2,000-pound bomb, before one of his unit's F-16C Falcons takes off March 2, 2003, on an Operation Northern Watch patrol to enforce the Northern No-fly Zone over Iraq. Pride, a weapons loader, is assigned to the 55th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., currently deployed at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Gamble, USAF.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSenior Airman Marshall Gaskins ensures a radar-guided AIM-120 AMRAAM -- Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile -- is ready for a patrol in the Northern No-fly Zone over Iraq March 2, 2003. Gaskins and his unit, the 113th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from the Air National Guard at Terre Haute, Ind., are deployed at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in support of Operation Northern Watch. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Gamble, USAF.   
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAn F-16C Falcon of the 55th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., holds at the edge of an Incirlik Air Base runway in Turkey as a KC-135R Stratotanker of the 900th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., comes in for a landing March 2, 2003. Both units are deployed at Incirlik to enforce the no-fly zone over northern Iraq and to monitor Iraqi compliance with U.N. Security Council resolutions. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Gamble, USAF.   
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