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Coalition Aircraft Respond to Iraqi Provocation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2003 – Coalition aircraft bombed a series of Iraqi targets today in response to Iraqi anti- aircraft artillery firing on the allied aircraft.

The Iraqi gunners fired on planes patrolling the Southern No-Fly Zone. In response, a coalition "strike package" hit communications, air defense and artillery sites.

Air Force officials in Southwest Asia would not say when the Iraqis fired on the coalition planes because they do not want to give away the response time.

To keep the Iraqis guessing, coalition leaders often delay responses so Iraqi officials cannot gain any intelligence. "But we also can have immediate responses (to provocations)," said a DoD official.

The coalition aircraft used precision-guided munitions to hit communication sites near Ash Shuaybah, Mudaysis and Ruwayshid. They also hit a mobile early-warning radar and an air defense command center at an Iraqi air base in western Iraq. The planes also hit an air traffic control radar near Al Basrah.

In the past, coalition aircraft hit these types of targets if provoked by the Iraqis.

But allied aircraft also targeted long-range artillery on the Al Faw peninsula, long-range artillery positions near Az Zubayr and a surface-to-surface missile system near Al Basrah.

Officials said coalition aircraft hit these sites because they posed a danger to coalition ground forces in Kuwait.

Coalition officials are assessing damage to the areas now.

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