Iraq Says 5 Killed, 17 Hurt in Western
Fri Jul 19, 3:04 PM ET
By Hassan Hafidh
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq said on Friday U.S. and British planes
attacked civilian targets killing five people and wounding 17 others
in the south of the country on Thursday.
"At 11:15 p.m. local time yesterday evil American and British
warplanes violated our airspace coming from Saudi Arabia and carried
out 34 sorties," an Iraqi military spokesman said in a statement on
the official Iraqi News Agency (INA).
A statement on the Web Site for U.S. Central Command in Florida,
which overseas U.S. military activity in the Gulf area, said
coalition aircraft struck a military target in the southern "no-fly"
zone with precision-guided weapons.
"In response to recent Iraqi hostile acts against Coalition
aircraft monitoring the Southern No-Fly Zone, Operation SOUTHERN
WATCH Coalition aircraft used precision-guided weapons today to
strike a military cable repeater station in southern Iraq..."
Britain's Ministry of Defense said it had nothing to add to the
Military activity in the region has become more frequent in
recent months amid speculation that the United States might invade
Iraq to oust President Saddam Hussein ( news
sites), whose country has the second largest oil reserves in the
world and who is accused by the United States of developing weapons
of mass destruction.
British and U.S. planes patrol two "no-fly" zones set up after
the 1991 Gulf War ( news
sites) in northern and southern Iraq.
Baghdad does not recognize the zones which the United States and
Britain say were imposed to protect a Kurdish enclave in the north
and Shi'ite Muslims in the south from possible attacks by Iraqi
Western planes have frequently bombed targets in the "no-fly"
zones since Baghdad stepped up its defiance of the restrictions in
"The enemy attacked civilian installations in the province of
Qadissiya (Diwaniya), killing five citizens and wounding 17 others,"
the Iraqi spokesman said.
He said a house was destroyed and another was damaged during the
attack in the center of Diwaniya city, some 180 km (110 miles) south
The U.S. Central Command said it never targets civilian
populations or infrastructure and that strikes in the "no-fly" zones
are executed as a self-defense measure in response to hostile Iraqi
threats and acts against Coalition forces.
"The last Coalition strike in the Southern No-Fly Zone was
against a mobile radar unit associated with a mobile surface-to-air
missile launcher on July 14, 2002," it said.
But a senior ruling Baath Party official said that there was no
Iraqi military activity in the area where Western planes dropped
their guided missiles.
"The evil American administration has yet added another crime to
their record which is full of crimes when it attacked a residential
quarter where there is no military activity...," Muhssein al-Khafaji
told Iraqi television.
Khafaji said a family, consisting of a child and her father and
mother, were killed during the assault. The two other victims were
from the next house, he said.
The television showed pictures of destroyed houses and rescue
teams were digging to take out the victims and save the wounded. It
also showed some of the wounded laying in a near-by hospital.
It said a funeral procession organized in the main street of
Diwaniya on Friday where participants shouted anti-American and
The television said that the people in the province condemned the
United States and Britain and expressed support for the leadership
of President Saddam Hussein to defend Iraq.
Friday's assault was the third reported by Iraq in a week.
Baghdad said one civilian was killed and 13 others wounded in two
raids by U.S. and British planes on civilian targets in the south of
the country on Saturday and Sunday.
The U.S. military said U.S. planes bombed Iraqi air defense
facilities after coalition aircraft came under fire and were
threatened by Iraqi air-defense units.
Saddam said on Wednesday in a televised speech marking Iraq's
July 17 revolution that Washington and its allies would not be able
to topple his government.