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Coalition Forces Strike Iraqi Site in Response to Attack

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2002 – Coalition forces this morning struck an Iraqi air defense center after a coalition plane in the area dropping leaflets was fired upon, defense officials said.

A coalition plane in the southern no-fly zone Oct. 2 was dropping leaflets advising Iraqi air-defense artillery operators that if they track or fire on coalition planes they are placing themselves in danger, according to a DoD spokesman.

An Iraqi air defense site fired anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles on the plane. U.S. officials would not say what type of plane it was.

Coalition aircraft struck an Iraqi air defense sector headquarters and integrated operations center near Tallil, roughly 160 miles southeast of Baghdad, with precision- guided weapons at 4:30 this morning Eastern Time, 12:30 p.m. in Iraq.

A DoD spokesman said he believed the site struck by coalition aircraft is the same site that fired on the plane dropping leaflets the previous day.

Defense officials said they aren't sure if the leaflets had sufficient time to reach the ground and be read before the plane was fired upon.

Coalition planes only attack Iraqi sites "in response to Iraqi hostile threats and acts against coalition forces and their aircraft," according to a news release from U.S. Central Command.

Defense officials said it's possible Iraqi soldiers manning air defense sites don't know coalition aircraft only strike those sites as a self-defense measure. The leaflets are intended to educate them.

The leaflets dropped in Iraq are in Arabic. An English translation of the pamphlet released by DoD states: "The destruction experienced by your colleagues in other air defense locations is a response to your continuing aggression toward planes of the coalition forces. No tracking or firing on these aircraft will be tolerated. You could be next."

Officials said this is the first time since 1991 that coalition forces had dropped leaflets over Iraq.

"We just want them to get the message, 'Hey, this is why we keep striking,'" Navy Lt. Dan Hetlage, a DoD spokesman, explained.

In 2002, there have been more than 140 separate incidents of Iraqi artillery and surface-to-air missiles fired at coalition aircraft in the northern and southern no-fly zones.

Before today, the most recent coalition armed response was an Oct. 1 attack on a mobile radar site near Al Kut, roughly 100 miles southeast of Baghdad. That attack came after Iraq moved a military mobile radar south of the 33rd parallel, which delineates the southern no-fly zone, and flew military aircraft into that zone, Central Command officials said.

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