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Iraq Fires on Northern Watch Pilots

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 18, 2002 – Iraqi forces fired anti-aircraft artillery Nov. 17 and today at coalition airplanes enforcing the Northern No-fly Zone over Iraq.

Both attacks came from positions northeast of Mosul, defense officials said. In both instances, coalition aircraft responded by dropping precision-guided munitions on Iraqi air defense elements.

The exchanges of fire don't differ much from hundreds of others over the past 11 years. But these strikes and others in the past week are of particular interest to world leaders because they come after the signing of a new U.N. Security Council resolution that authorizes strong repercussions for such aggression.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Nov. 17 the U.N. Security Council would decide if such attacks constitute a material breach of its Resolution 1441.

Also on Nov. 17, coalition aircraft dropped 120,000 leaflets around the town of Ar Rumaythah, roughly 100 miles southeast of Baghdad. The leaflets urge Iraqi military forces not to engage coalition aircrews. They also lay out the consequences of such actions so the local civilian population can understand the situation, according to information released by the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla.

The 3-by-6-inch flyers, written in Arabic, were dropped in two "leaflet bombs," fiberglass containers that explode over an area, allowing their contents to scatter and drift to the ground.

U.S. Central Command officials said this was the fourth leaflet drop in the last eight weeks.

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