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Coalition Aircraft Strike Iraqi Sites on 3 Consecutive Days

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2002 – Coalition aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone in southern Iraq have struck Iraqi military sites three days running, according to U.S. Central Command officials.

Early this morning Eastern time, coalition aircraft from Operation Southern Watch used precision-guided weapons to strike an Iraqi communications site near Al Kut, about 100 miles southeast of Baghdad. The strike was in response to the Iraqis' firing surface-to-air missiles at coalition aircraft, according to a CENTCOM press release.

Dec. 15, coalition aircrews used precision-guided weapons to strike cable repeater sites and an Iraqi mobile radar at about 4:30 a.m. Eastern time. The targets were at An Nasiriyah, also roughly 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, and Al Basra, about 245 miles southeast of Baghdad.

A CENTCOM release said these strikes were "a self-defense measure in response to Iraqi hostile threats and acts against coalition forces and their aircraft."

The Dec. 15 strikes came after Iraqi surface-to-air artillery fired on coalition aircraft, and coalition forces discovered a mobile radar in the Southern No-Fly Zone. Both Iraqi actions violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Coalition forces had also struck Iraqi sites at Al Kut; Qal'at Sukkar, about 170 miles southeast of Baghdad; and Al Amarah, roughly 165 miles southeast of Baghdad, on Dec. 14.

These strikes occurred at about 1 a.m. Eastern time and were in response to a violation of the Southern No-Fly Zone by Iraqi military aircraft.

Central Command officials stated coalition pilots "never target civilian populations or infrastructure and go to painstaking lengths to avoid injury to civilians and damage to civilian facilities."

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