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U.S., British Planes Attack Iraqi Military Sites

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2001 – U.S. and British warplanes struck Iraqi military sites Aug. 10 in response to recent hostile actions by Baghdad against coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones, defense officials said. No coalition aircraft were damaged or lost.

At approximately 5:30 a.m. Eastern time, Operation Southern Watch coalition aircraft used precision-guided weapons in a routine strike against military communication, radar and missile sites in southern Iraq, according to a U.S. Central Command release. An assessment of damage to the Iraqi facilities is ongoing.

"We conduct the strikes to protect U.S. and coalition pilots and aircraft monitoring the no-fly zones," said Army Col. Rick Thomas, CENTCOM headquarters spokesperson at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

About 20 coalition strike aircraft were involved in the strikes, near An Numaniyah, about 70 miles southeast of Baghdad, and against a mobile early warning radar system and surface-to-air missile site near An Nasiriyah, about 170 miles southeast of Baghdad, DoD spokesperson Army Lt. Col. Steve Campbell said.

Coalition aircraft involved in today's strike were U.S. Navy F-18 Hornets and F-14 Tomcats, U.S. Air Force F-16 Falcons and British Royal Air Force Tornados, according to the official. Coalition aviators have flown patrols over northern and southern Iraq since the end of the Gulf War in 1991 to prevent Saddam Hussein from threatening his neighbors.

A Pentagon spokesperson noted that coalition aircraft on Northern Watch patrol were attacked today by Iraqi anti- aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles, but did not respond. A previous coalition strike in the southern no-fly zone was made July 17 against an Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery site, according to the CENTCOM release.

Pentagon officials noted the Iraqis fired a surface-to-air missile at a U.S. Navy reconnaissance plane inside Kuwaiti airspace July 19, and another missile that almost hit an U.S. U-2 surveillance plane flying over southern Iraq July 24.

From December 1998 to date, more than 1,000 separate incidents have occurred of Iraqis firing missiles and anti- aircraft artillery at coalition aircraft, according to the CENTCOM release. More than 375 of the incidents have occurred this calendar year. The release also pointed out that Iraqi aircraft violated the southern no-fly zone more than 160 times since December 1998.

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