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News items

*       Iraqis Mourn Dead From U.S. Attack (Associated Press)
*       What the Pentagon said (from BBC and AP)
*       Russia condemns attacks (Reuters)
*       Arab ministerial committee seek to lift sanctions imposed on
Iraq (Arabic News)

Iraqis Mourn Dead From U.S. Attack 
By Vijay Joshi, Associated Press Writer, Tuesday, January 26, 1999; 6:07
a.m. EST
ABU FALOUS, Iraq (AP) -- The sounds of Islamic prayer coming from a
mosque filled the morning air today as Iraqi women gathered in a house
to beat their chests and wail in traditional mourning for those who died
in a U.S. missile strike. Iraqi officials say six people were killed in
the village of Abu Falous, 24 miles south of Basra, and five others died
in that city's al-Jumhuriya neighborhood when missiles struck Monday

U.S. officials said Air Force and Navy jets fired at air defense posts
in response to threats from anti-aircraft fire and Iraqi warplanes
violating the no-flight zone in southern Iraq. They said at least one
misfired high-explosive missile may have killed civilians. Other reports
suggested more missiles may have gone off course. Ahmed Ibrahim Hamash,
the governor of Basra, said two aircraft fired five missiles, three of
which hit civilian areas and two others which struck near Basra airport
and in an oilfield. 

Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency reported today that a
missile landed outside the Iranian city of Abadan, 30 miles east of
Basra. It apparently caused no damage. Prakash Shah, a U.N. envoy to
Iraq, said Monday that another missile struck in the demilitarized zone
between Iraq and Kuwait. Shah later toured damaged areas in Basra, 350
miles south of the capital, Baghdad. ``It was very sad,'' he said. 

In Abu Falous, a village with an anti-aircraft battery on its outskirts,
government worker Taha Yassin, 50, said he was sitting in his house when
he heard the blast of a missile Monday morning. ``It shook the ground
like it was an earthquake,'' he said, describing how he and others ran
toward the sound and came upon the demolished houses. ``There was blood
all over, and the street was covered in smoke,'' he said. ``You couldn't
even carry the wounded children because you were afraid you might injure
them more.'' A gray-green rocket with its nose and tail missing lay in a
street. It was about 6 feet long and had written on its side in English,
``warranted item.''  Iraqi officials say the 11 killed Monday were all
women, children and the elderly because most men were at work when the
missiles hit residential areas. They said 59 others were wounded,
including 17 in Abu Falous. 

U.S. aircraft have been firing almost daily at Iraqi air defenses in the
southern and northern no-fly zones in Iraq since the American and
British airstrikes in mid-December. On Monday, the senior U.S. commander
in the Persian Gulf, Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, said that ``we deeply
regret any loss of civilian lives or civilian casualties or injuries''
that may have been caused by the latest missile firing.  But Zinni said
officials had not confirmed that any missile struck civilians. He also
said Saddam was ultimately to blame because of his ``attacks against us
and his history of disregard for the welfare of his own people.''

What the Pemtagon said
From: Robert Burns, Associated Press Writer, Wednesday, January 27,
1999; 2:44 a.m. EST
BBC Online, Tuesday January 26, 1999 Published at 23:41 GMT
The US has confirmed that one its missiles hit a residential area in the
southern city of Basra on Monday. Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said
an AGM-130 missile had missed its target, and exploded in a residential
area several kilometres away. "It created some damage. We realise that
and we regret any civilian casualties, but this was done in response to
a provocative attack against our planes by Saddam Hussein, and I think
that should be clear," he said. Bacon said he could not confirm the
missile killed civilians. "I don't think I have any independent
confirmation whether it did or it didn't,'' he said.

Bacon said only one U.S. missile went astray. Iraq reported an
unspecified number of casualties [at al-Jumhuriya, Basra]; it said a
total of three American missiles killed 11 civilians in a series of
attacks. "We don't have any independent estimate of casualties or
fatalities that can back up what the Iraqis have said about this,''
Bacon said. 

Meanwhile, the Air Force will continue using the AGM-130 in "no-fly''
zone enforcement missions in Iraq, Bacon said. He described the weapon
as "generally very accurate'' but said there are many reasons it might
miss a target. He would not offer any examples. "I think that we are
having a grave impact on the Iraqi air defense system, and a grave
impact on the number of weapons they have to bring to bear against our
planes, and we will continue to do that until the threat goes away,''
Bacon said.

"We're acting here in self-defense and in response to concerted attacks
by Saddam Hussein,'' Sandy Berger, the president's national security
adviser, said in an interview with defense reporters. 

Russia condemns attacks
MOSCOW, Jan 26 (Reuters)
Russia issued a strong official condemnation on Tuesday of the deaths of
civilians in what Iraq  said was a U.S. missile attack on the city of
Basra on Monday. "Nothing can justify new deaths among the civilian
population of Iraq, which has already been bled dry by the  hardships of
many years of blockade,'' the Foreign Ministry said  in a statement
issued as U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright held talks with
Russian officials in Moscow. 

Arab ministerial committee to lift sanctions imposed on Iraq meets
shortly in Damascus
Arabic News, Regional, Politics, 1/26/99
Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa arrived on Monday in Damascus
after he presided over the meeting of the Arab foreign ministers on
Sunday in Cairo. A final statement was issued in which the ministers
reiterated their demand that military options against Iraq should not be
resorted to, asserting that a diplomatic solution should be embarked
upon in implementing UN Security Council resolutions. The Arab ministers
also demanded the lifting of the sanctions imposed on Iraq, Libya and
Sudan. They stressed the unity and sovereignty of the Iraqi territories
and non-intervention in the internal affairs of Iraq. The ministers also
agreed to form a committee comprising of the Syrian foreign minister and
several Arab countries with the basic task of lifting the economic
sanctions with members of the UN Security Council.

In this respect Arab League Secretary General Esmat Abdul Meguid
announced on Monday that the ministerial committee formed by the Arab
foreign ministers in their consultation meeting will be held shortly in
Damascus at the invitation of Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa
in his capacity as the
current chairman of the Arab League council. In a press conference he
held on Sunday the Arab League chief said that the "committee will
discuss the future plan with the UN Security Council in coordination
with the Iraqi government in order to lift the siege imposed on Iraq."
Abdul Meguid said the committee includes the foreign ministers of Syria,
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria
and Bahrain -- the Arab member of the UN Security Council and the AL
chief. He stated that he does not think that Iraq will oppose the
committee which seeks to lift the embargo imposed on Iraq, despite the
withdrawal of the Iraqi delegation and its refusal of the statement.

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