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Ritter comments, current casualties, stray missiles hit Iran & , hospitals in Iraq.

The news reports about the ongoing war against Iraq are far too numerous
for me to send out to this list, and a lot of it is being reported on TV
and radio news in any case. Below are just a few recent reports.

If you want to keep abreast of the latest developments, there's a web
page on 'Where to find the latest news about the Iraq Crisis' on the CASI
website,  which includes links to sites
with newswire reports flowing in at a mind-boggling rate.

This email contains:

1) Scott Ritter comments about Butler's report
2) extract from CNN. includes: Butler's comments
                               Iraqi hospitals hit by US missiles
3) Stray missile hits Iran
4) Iraq Reports 25 Killed in US Blasts

Some other news is that Russia has withdrawn its ambassador to the US in
protest of the attack on Iraq.


From: Rania Masri <>

New York Post - NEWS   

Former chief U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter says U.S. officials prodded
inspection teams to return to Iraq last month to provoke a crisis to justify
"What [chief U.N. weapons inspector] Richard Butler did last week with the
inspections was a set-up," Ritter told The Post yesterday. "This was designed
to generate a conflict that would justify a bombing." 

Ritter said U.S. government sources told him three weeks ago when the
inspections resumed that "the two considerations on the horizon were Ramadan
[the monthlong Muslim holiday beginning this weekend] and impeachment. 

"You have no choice but to interpret this as 'Wag the Dog.' You have no
choice," he said. 

"If you start assessing what's happened since November 19 [when inspectors
resumed their work in Iraq], you have to wonder if the U.S. isn't perverting a
good cause." 

Ritter's comments - and his reference to the movie about a president who
created a phony war to divert attention from his domestic problems - came
hours before U.S. military forces struck in the Persian Gulf, destroying
suspected biological and chemical weapons sites in Iraq. 

In mid-November, U.S. and British forces were on the verge of massive bombing
attacks on Iraq. The attacks were called off at the last minute after Saddam
Hussein reversed Baghdad's Oct. 31 refusal to cooperate with U.N. weapons

After Saddam capitulated, inspectors were rushed back in to resume their

"UNSCOM [the U.N. Special Commission] knew there were no weapons at the sites
they were sending their inspectors to. We've been doing this for seven years.
We know that when the inspectors leave, Iraq shuffles up the deck, moves the

"Why then did the U.S. urge these inspectors to carry out immediate

Ritter assailed Butler's report, released late Tuesday night, that said Iraq
was not complying with the inspections. That report was in contrast with one
released by the International Atomic Energy Agency which said Iraq was

Ritter insists Butler's report - while necessary - was politically motivated. 

"If you dig around, you'll find out why Richard Butler yesterday ran to the
phone four times. He was talking to his [U.S.] National Security adviser. They
were telling him to sharpen the language in his report to justify the

Ritter quit the inspections team in August, saying the Clinton administration
and the United Nations had stymied the efforts of inspectors to uncover
Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. 

He said that before he quit, inspectors had acquired detailed information
about where weapons were hidden - but the Iraqis have since had time to move
them and probers will have to begin the process all over again. 

Yesterday, Ritter charged that the only way to achieve the objective of
disarming Iraq is to demand - under threat of a crippling, large-scale
military attack - that they not only turn over their weapons, but detail for
inspectors exactly how and where they diverted the weaponry to avoid

A limited air attack on Iraq will achieve very little, Ritter said, though he
said it would be in keeping with the Clinton administration's latest policy of
containment with Iraq. 

"No inspector should go back until Iraq admits it has lied and details how
they hid their weapons. 

"Instead, we send inspectors back in to continue the failed process of
inspections. There are still weapons in Iraq. There's no doubt about that. 

"But we've been doing this since 1991 and its not working." 


Extract from an article on CNN website:

Blasts over Baghdad during second night of attack 
Pentagon reports on first wave

CNN, December 17, 1998 Web posted at: 6:13 p.m. EDT (2213 GMT) 

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- As U.S. and British bombers unleashed more missiles on
Baghdad for a second straight night, chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard
Butler vigorously defended the timing and contents of his report, which
criticized Iraqi cooperation with arms experts. He bristled at suggestions
it had been written to suit the interests of President Clinton.

"It danced to no one's tune. It was not written for anyone's purposes," 
Butler told reporters. "The report is factual, clear, objective and
honest. Any suggestions to the contrary are false."

An intensive series of explosions thundered through Baghdad at about 10
p.m. local time (2 p.m. EST) Thursday. An orange plume of smoke wafted
over the city after one of the loudest bursts.

"It's bigger, stronger and louder than last night," chief CNN Senior
International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour reported from a rooftop in
downtown Baghdad.

Iraqi officials said at least 25 people had died and 75 were wounded in
the Iraqi capital alone during two days of airstrikes.

Health Minister Umeed Madhat Mubarak said two Baghdad hospitals were
damaged in Thursday night's attack.

Reporters were taken to Iraq's largest hospital, Saddam Medical City,
where they saw smashed windows, broken elevators and water flowing across
the floors. Physicians said most of their equipment had been destroyed.

Mubarak said a maternity hospital had also been hit. 

U.S. military officials acknowledged one errant cruise missile struck a
residential and commercial district, resulting in civilian casualties.

[extract ends]


FOCUS-Iran protests after hit by errant missile

TEHRAN, Dec 17 (Reuters) - A stray missile from the allied  attack 
on Iraq crashed into a southwestern Iranian border city  on 
Thursday, causing no casualties but prompting a strong  diplomatic 
protest from Tehran.   

The official IRNA news agency quoted an informed source in  the 
port of Khorramshahr as saying the missile touched down near  the 
city's central mosque, shattering nearby windows and damaging 
propery within a 200-metre (220-yard radius).   

``The source told IRNA that the missile had apparently  targeted 
one of the Iraqi installations in the city of Basra but  instead hit 
Khorramshahr,'' IRNA said.   

The blast spread panic in the city, virtually destroyed  during the 
1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, but there were no injuries,  the agency 

Iranian television showed a row of apartments, their  hallways 
strewn with broken glass.   

The report on the main afternoon bulletin said the  projectile was a 
cruise missile. But it was unclear whether the  weapon's warhead 
had exploded.   

State radio said Foreign Ministry officials protested about  the 
incident to the ambassador of Switzerland, who represents  the 
United States in Iran, and the British charge d'affaires.   

``The Swiss ambassador and British charge were summoned to  
the Foreign Ministry, where the Islamic Republic of Iran's  strong 
protest regarding the landing of a missile in  Khorramshahr was 
submitted to them,'' it said.   

Ministry officials said they held Britain and America, who  launched 
the joint attack against Iraq in the early hours on  Thurday Iran 
time, responsible for any damages or injuries.   

No comment was immediately available from the Western  envoys, 
but the radio quoted them as saying the missile had  deviated from 
its trajectory and expressed their regret.   

The radio also quoted the Foreign Ministry as saying Iranian  
pilgrims to holy Shi'ite Moslem sites in neighbouring Iraq were  safe 
and preparations were under way for their return home.   

Earlier, Iran condemned the military strikes against Iraq as 
``unacceptable'' and called for United Nations action to halt  the 
operations. It also urged Baghdad to cooperate with the  United 
Nations to implement Security Council resolutions.   

``Such unilateral attacks against Iraq will worsen the  suffering of 
the Iraqi people and increase instability in the  region,'' the radio 
quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza  Asefi as saying.  
 ``Such wilful attacks against that country (Iraq) are  unacceptable 
to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and Iran urges the  U.N. Security 
Council to take urgent action to prevent the  situation from getting 
any more dangerous in the region,'' Asefi  said.   

He said Iran was against the partition of Iraq and was  following 
developments closely.   

Iran, which condemns the presence of U.S. and other Western  
forces in the Gulf, has often opposed military action against  
neighbouring Iraq.   

Tehran, Baghdad's foe in a bloody eight-year war, has also  
repeatedly called on Iraq to comply with U.N. arms inspections.   

An Iranian newspaper said on Thursday that U.S. President  Bill 
Clinton was politically doomed, regardless of the outcome  of any 
attack on Iraq, because of the impending vote on his  

In an editorial written before the strikes against Iraq, the English-
language Iran Daily said: ``Whether the new planned aggression 
transforms into action or not and whatever Mr Clinton  may do, he 
cannot change his past.   

``When Mr Clinton's Mideast tour ended Tuesday night, it  became 
more apparent that his political career, too, may be  coming to an 
end sooner rather than later,'' said the editorial,  quoted by IRNA 
ahead of publication.   

``Even if he survives (impeachment), the question is what  will be 
his future? He may be in office but not in power,'' said  the 
newspaper, which is published by IRNA.   

It added that attempts to save Clinton ``appear futile at  best.''  


Thursday December 17 7:36 PM ET 

Iraq Reports 25 Killed in US Blasts

By WAIEL FALEH Associated Press Writer 

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Buildings shook and parts of Baghdad's skyline glowed
orange late Thursday as U.S. missiles exploded in the second wave of
American airstrikes on Iraq. At least 25 people were killed in the two
rounds of attacks, an Iraqi official said. 

After at least a dozen explosions, a pall of white smoke hung over the
center of the Iraqi capital. The impact of one explosion rocked the
government press center in downtown Baghdad. 

Startled Iraqi motorists stomped on the gas at the noise, speeding off to
safety. Earlier, air raid sirens had screamed repeatedly during the day in
a series of nerve-jarring false alarms. 

Iraqi Health Minister Omed Medhat Mubarak said at least 25 people were
killed and 75 injured from the two rounds of attacks. 

The attack came as U.S. and Iraqi officials were still assessing damage
from the first American strike by hundreds of missiles before dawn
Thursday - a military operation that aimed to gut President Saddam
Hussein's military machine. 

The sound of the explosions appeared far louder in the second attack since
the missiles struck the heart of Baghdad. 

In Washington, Pentagon officials said cruise missiles had been fired deep
into Iraq in the second attack, and Navy strike aircraft had fired
laser-guided bombs along Iraq's borders. 

After the first explosion at 9:57 p.m. (1:57 p.m. EST), anti-aircraft fire
was unleashed and tracer bullets darted into the air. 

One missile appeared to have hit the vicinity of the government's Military
Industrial Corporation, from where the smoke drifted into the sky. The
complex, which is in charge of Iraq's factories, was heavily damaged
during the 1991 Gulf War but has since been rebuilt. 

Foreign reporters in Baghdad are based at a press center in the
Information Ministry and could not move around the sprawling city of 5
million without official escorts. 

Mubarak, the health minister, said Iraq's ill-equipped hospitals will find
it hard to cope with the growing number of casualties. He spoke to
reporters in a Baghdad hospital that was damaged by nearby explosions. 

Clinton, meeting Thursday morning in the Oval Office with top military and
foreign policy advisers, expressed regret at any ``unintended

Residents of Baghdad lined up at gas stations Thursday to stock up on fuel
- one indication they thought that more U.S. airstrikes were coming. 

But many people went about their normal routines - government workers
showed up at their offices and children went to school - and some gave a
show of defiance. 

``Where is this Clinton? I wish I could get my hands on him,'' Salam
Mohammed, 34, mumbled from a bed in Baghdad's al-Yarmouk Hospital bed, his
face bandaged and his body trembling. 

Saddam visited some of the targeted sites Thursday, including the house of
his daughter Hala, Baghdad Radio reported. Hala, the youngest of his three
daughters, was safe, but the house was demolished, it said. 

``It was targeted and destroyed by the evil enemies in their latest
aggression,'' the radio said. The house was in a complex of buildings that
houses several of Saddam's relatives. 

Saddam taunted the United States and Britain in a radio address, saying
they are cowards for not fighting ``face to face.''

At least one missile fell near Saddam's biggest palace in Baghdad in the
first attack. His whereabouts were not known at the time. 

Russian President Boris Yeltsin denounced the attacks Thursday and called
for an immediate end to the bombing. Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov gave Vice President Al Gore an earful of criticism in a telephone
call and Russia later pulled its ambassador from Washington in protest. 

Nonetheless, U.S. officials have said the airstrikes would go on for four

In Washington, Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, said the headquarters of Iraq's special forces and its military
intelligence were leveled by sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles. 

Clinton said he ordered ``Operation Desert Fox'' to prevent Iraq from
building the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons it was prohibited
from having under U.N. resolutions after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. 

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair told lawmakers that British Tornado
jets, all designed primarily for low-level bombing missions, went into
action for the first time Thursday afternoon. 

``I have no doubt at all that action is fully justified now,'' Blair told
the House of Commons in London. 

He added of Clinton: ``Not for the first time, he has shown the courage to
do the right thing, and he has my full support.''

Al-Sahhaf, the Iraqi foreign minister, accused both nations of lying in
claiming that a report by U.N.  chief weapons inspector Richard Butler
proved Iraq had not cooperated in the search for its weapons of mass

He said inspection teams had carried out visits to 427 sites since the
last standoff over weapons inspections in mid-November and there had been
only five cases of non-cooperation. 

The inspectors must certify that Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass
destruction before the U.N.  Security Council will lift damaging trade
sanctions imposed on Iraq. 

Al-Sahhaf said the five sites that caused trouble did not justify ``a
dangerous crime against the people of Iraq.''

He also listed examples of targets struck in the first attack, including
factories and the headquarters of the security police and military

The minister said instead of calling their campaign ``Operation Desert
Fox,'' the allies should have named it ``Operation Villains in the Arabian

In the Thursday morning attacks, U.S. warships fired more than 200
Tomahawk cruise missiles, and Navy EA-6B attack planes struck Iraqi air
defense radars, Pentagon officials said. 

There are 24,100 U.S. troops, 22 warships, 210 aircraft and the aircraft
carrier USS Enterprise in the Gulf off the coast of southern Iraq. The
forces are bolstered with 15 B-52 heavy bombers. 

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