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Coalition Strikes Targets, Drops Leaflets

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2003 – Coalition aircraft have conducted a series of strikes in the Southern No-fly Zone since March 8, U.S. Central Command officials said today.

Coalition aircraft hit Iraqi communications sites after taking fire from anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles March 8 and 9.

Southern Watch aircraft today also struck a mobile target acquisition radar system about 230 miles west of Baghdad and south of Ar Rutbah after the Iraqis moved below the 33rd parallel into the southern zone. The radar system would have allowed Iraqi air defenses to locate, track and target coalition aircraft and was a threat.

On March 9, Southern Watch aircraft bombed five unmanned, underground military communication sites near An Numinayah, about 60 miles southeast of Baghdad. The aircraft hit the sites after Iraqi forces fired a surface-to-air missile earlier in the day.

American and British aircraft hit four communications sites on March 8 near Qalat Sukkar, about 125 miles southeast of Baghdad. Coalition aircraft used precision-guided munitions to hit the facilities after Iraqi air defense gunners fired on the aircraft. The military communication sites enhanced Iraq's ability to command and control air defenses that threaten coalition aircraft, officials said.

So far this year, Iraqi air defenses have fired either surface-to-air missiles or anti-aircraft artillery at Operation Southern Watch coalition aircraft more than 110 times.

Coalition forces also dropped leaflets today in the north and south of Iraq.

Operation Northern Watch aircraft operating out of Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, dropped 240,000 leaflets on two locations south of Tall Afar and southwest of Lake Saddam. Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery sites at these locations have a habit of firing on coalition aircraft enforcing the Northern No-Fly Zone.

The front side message read, "Do not track or fire on coalition aircraft." On the back, it reads, "Any hostile action by Iraqi air defense will be answered by instant retaliation. Iraqi air defense positions which fire on coalition aircraft or activate air defense radar will be attacked and destroyed."

It was the second time coalition forces dropped leaflets in the 12-year history of Operation Northern Watch.

In the Southern No-Fly Zone, aircraft dropped leaflets over Iraq on March 9 and 10.

Today, coalition forces dropped 480,000 leaflets over Al Hilla, approximately 60 miles south of Baghdad. Printed on the leaflets are the radio frequencies people can tune to for information on coalition support for the Iraqi people and reaction of the international community to actions by Saddam Hussein's regime.

On March 9, coalition forces dropped 180,000 similar leaflets over areas near Baghdad.

By dropping leaflets in Iraq, officials said, the coalition hopes to protect Iraqi lives and deter Iraqi aggression by providing relevant, factual information to both Iraqi civilians and military troops.

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