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Coalition Aircraft Fired on Over Northern Iraq

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2002 – Coalition aircraft enforcing the Northern No-fly Zone over Iraq dropped precision-guided munitions today on elements of Saddam Hussein's air defense system.

The coalition aircraft attacked after Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery fired on them. All coalition aircraft returned to base safely.

Combined task force officials would not discuss where the incident occurred or what the aircrafts' target was.

The coalition aircraft struck immediately after the provocation. "We do not do a measured response," said Air Force Maj. Scott Covode, a spokesman at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. "We do an immediate self-defense response."

The Iraqi air defenses fired on American and British aircraft doing a routine patrol of the no-fly zone. It was the third time in October that Operation Northern Watch aircraft responded to such provocation. Covode said it was the 13th time this year that coalition aircraft dropped ordnance and the 71st time that Iraq has fired on coalition aircraft operating in the area.

Coalition aircraft patrolling the Southern No-fly Zone have responded six times this month to Iraqi provocations.

Officials said most of the provocations have been Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery. Air Force officials said the Iraqis occasionally fire surface-to-air missiles, but without radar guidance. The tactic prevents coalition aircraft from locating radars, but impairs missile accuracy. "Dumb" missiles, however, are still dangerous, officials said.

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