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News articles

Article from today's Independent about the "undeclared war", and various
articles received from IAC (Iraq Action Coalition) yesterday concerned
with the details of the air raids. The Independent says that: "the US
and British strikes have become noticeably more wide-ranging over the
past few weeks", yet that "the greater purpose behind the US and British
attacks remains opaque".

*       US bombers step up war against Iraq (The Independent)
*       One dead, 9 hurt in bombing of Iraq (Agence France-Presse)
*       U.S. Planes Strike at Iraq Again (Associated Press)
*       Iraq Says U.S. Bombs Disrupted Oil Flow - Target Was Air
Defense, Pentagon Says (Washington Post)
*       Three dead in US attacks: Iraq (Agence France-Presse)

US bombers step up war against Iraq 
The Independent, 2 March 1999, By Andrew Marshall in Washington 

The US launched a large-scale escalation of its aerial war against Iraq
yesterday, attacking several sites in the north of the country.  Iraq
said that the strikes had damaged its ability to export oil, which it
uses to pay for food for its increasingly impoverished population.  The
day-by-day bombing of Iraqi air defences has become an undeclared war,
allowing the US and Britain to launch attacks almost at will in the
no-fly zones over the country. Iraq does not recognise the zones, and
has targeted allied aircraft with radar, anti-aircraft fire and
surface-to-air missiles. 

But for most of the past two months, the US and Britain have been
dropping at most a dozen bombs and missiles on Iraq in attacks in the
north and south. Yesterday they launched attacks on a much broader
scale, as the rules of engagement were apparently shifted. The attacks
appear to be aimed at weakening Iraq's control of the north of the
country, a large slice of which is already under Kurdish control.

A statement from the US European Command, which controls the operations
in northern Iraq, said: "Between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. Iraqi time, while
conducting routine enforcement of the northern no-fly zone, and in
response to several incidents of Iraqi radar targeting coalition
aircraft, US F-15Es dropped more than 30, 2,000lb and 500lb laser guided
bombs." They were aimed at "Iraqi communications sites, radio relay
sites, and anti-aircraft artillery sites". 

The US said that the incidents happened "near Mosul", the northern Iraqi
city. Though the US and Britain have not reported details in the past of
what targets they were striking, it is thought that they have targeted
facilities around Ayn Zalah, a city to the north-west of Mosul with a
concentration of communications and oil facilities. They have also in
the past attacked targets at Tall Afar, an airbase to the West, Faidah,
a village to the north, and other targets on the edge of the
Kurdish-controlled zone to the north. 

On Sunday, Iraq said that US attacks had disabled the oil pipeline which
took oil to Turkey for export under the oil for food programme.  Iraq
said that further damage had been done to its oil facilities yesterday.
"American warplanes caused civilian casualties and other damage to a
link in the control system of the Iraqi-Turkish pipeline resulting in
the isolation of the metering station in Zakho (northern Iraq)," an
Iraqi spokesman said.  The US denied that it had hit a civilian target,
but said it was now allowing its pilots greater latitude in choosing
what they attacked.  "Pilots have been given greater flexibility to
attack those systems that place them in jeopardy," said William Cohen,
the US Secretary of Defense. "They are not simply going to respond to a
triple-A [anti-aircraft artillery] site or to a SAM [surface-to-air
missile] site," he said.  "They can go after command and control and
communications centers as well that allow Saddam Hussein to try to
target them and put them in jeopardy. They have some flexibility and
they will continue to have that flexibility." 

Iraq has been trying to trap allied aircraft by using its own aircraft
and other decoys to lure them into the field of fire of surface -to-air
missiles.  Kurdish sources say that Iraq was using a multiple rocket
launcher to draw allied aircraft, dumping dozens of missiles on the town
of Dahuk in the process. Iraq has threatened in the past to attack the
facilities in Turkey, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from which the allied
aircraft operate, though it withdrew the threat against Turkey.  The US
has deployed Patriot anti-missiles around Incirlik, the Turkish base
where the US and Royal Air Force aircraft are located. 

The US and British strikes have become noticeably more wide-ranging over
the past few weeks, extending to communications facilities and other
military targets across the country. Targets just 50 miles outside
Baghdad were attacked last week. 

The greater purpose behind the US and British attacks remains opaque.
America has said that it will start providing more support for the
exiled Iraqi opposition, and a meeting of the Iraqi National Congress,
the largest group, will be held in Washington next month.  The US
Congress has approved funds to arm and train the opposition, but it is
still some way from disbursing this. In the meantime, America is
applying mounting pressure on the regime through military means.
Washington continues to hint that the rule of Saddam Hussein is on its
last legs. 

An article in the magazine US News and World Report says that Saddam
sacked senior naval officers who said they could not destroy a US
aircraft carrier with their tiny navy, and the US has also reported that
there have been riots around Iraq following the murder of an influential
Shia cleric last month.

One dead, 9 hurt in bombing of Iraq
21:32 GMT, 01 March 1999

BAGHDAD, March 1 (AFP) -US-British bombing in northern Iraq on Monday
killed one person and injured nine among the local population, on raids
against "civilian and military targets," the official Iraqi news agency
INA reported. "The enemy planes carried out two raids against a
residential complex belonging to the northern (Iraqi) oil company, where
one citizen was killed and nine others injured," an Iraqi spokesman
said, quoted by INA. He said the attacks "damaged a control station of
the Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline at Ein Zala, 60 kilometers (40 miles) from
Mosul, and cut off another one east of Zakho," also in the north of the

U.S. Planes Strike at Iraq Again 
By Jassim Mohammed, Associated Press Writer, Monday, March 1, 1999; 5:49
p.m. EST

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) -- American warplanes struck northern Iraq again on
Monday, and Iraqi officials said an oil pipeline knocked out by weekend
bombing could be back in operation in a few days.  U.S. Air Force jets
dropped more than 30 bombs on Iraqi military installations Monday, a
U.S. military official said. The bombing came after the F-15 fighters
were targeted by Iraqi radar near Mosul, Air Force Capt. Mike Blass of
the U.S. European Command said. He said damage was being assessed.  In
Baghdad, the official Iraqi News Agency reported that the U.S. warplanes
damaged ``another circle in the control system of the operations of the
Iraq-Turkey pipeline,'' for the second time in two days. 

Iraqi officials said Sunday's U.S. strikes hit the power station and
communications center for a major pipeline about 25 miles from Mosul,
cutting off the flow of Iraqi oil to Turkey. Iraq said one person died
and two were wounded.  Talal Ashur, director-general of Iraq's Northern
Oil Company, took reporters on a tour of the damaged site. He said Iraq
was considering ways to get the oil flowing at a reduced rate in a few
days.  The line to the southern Turkish port of Ceyhan is the only
functioning pipeline in Iraq and one of only two outlets for oil
exports.  ``This strike has practically halted the export of crude oil
(via Turkey),'' Ashur said.  The tour showed that Iraqi oil officials'
assertion Sunday that a pumping station had been destroyed was not
accurate. However, Ashur said the pipeline could not function normally
without the communications center. 

In Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said American planes
may have hit the site near Mosul.  ``We did in fact target a
communications facility which may, or may not, have interrupted the flow
of oil going to Turkey, but we believe the target itself was one that
was used for communications purposes to their military,'' he said.
Asked if the communications center was ever used for military purposes,
Ashur said: ``Never. You can verify this from the Turkish side.'' 

Officials have said 56 percent of Iraq's oil exports flow through the
pipeline. The country is exporting 2.1 million barrels a day under the
oil-for-food program, which provides an exemption to the U.N. sanctions
imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. 

Iraq Says U.S. Bombs Disrupted Oil Flow - Target Was Air Defense,
Pentagon Says
By Edward Walsh, Washington Post Staff Writer, Monday, March 1, 1999;
Page A13 

U.S. warplanes attacked targets in northern Iraq yesterday in a raid
that Iraqi officials said halted the flow of crude oil through a
pipeline to a port in southern Turkey but U.S. military officials said
hit only elements of Iraq's air defense system. The attack by Air Force
F-15 fighter-bombers occurred early yesterday afternoon in Iraq (about 6
a.m. EST) and was ordered after planes patrolling Iraq's northern no-fly
zone came under anti-aircraft fire earlier in the day, U.S. officials
said. Air Force Capt. Mike Blass, a spokesman for the U.S. European
Command that oversees the northern zone in which Iraqi aircraft are not
permitted to fly, told the Associated Press that the targets included an
Iraqi air defense headquarters, a radio relay installation and a
surface-to-air missile site. He said the targets were in the vicinity of
Mosul, about 250 miles north of Baghdad.

But the Iraqi oil ministry's director of planning, Faleh al-Khaiat, told
a news conference that the warplanes hit a pumping station in northern
Iraq, disrupting the flow of oil from the Iraqi field of Kirkuk to the
southern Turkish port of Ceyhan, the AP reported. The AP also quoted an
unnamed Turkish official as confirming that the flow of oil to the
Ceyhan terminal had stopped and saying that the attack had hit "energy
transmission lines of a communications center" that operates the
pipeline. Army Col. Richard Bridges, a Pentagon spokesman, said "we
can't confirm any collateral damage" from the attack, which he said was
carried out by "at least three" F-15s that dropped three GBU-12
precision-guided 500-pound bombs and three GBU-24 precision-guided
2000-pound bombs. "We hit elements of the Iraqi integrated air defense
system and there is no reason to believe we missed," Bridges said. "We
do not believe we hit anything other than what we were aiming at."

Describing what he said was an attack on a pumping station, Iraq's
al-Khaiat said the raid killed one Iraqi and seriously wounded two
others, the AP reported. He said the dead man was an observer, employed
by the Iraqi government, who worked with the United Nations oil-for-food
program that monitors the flow of oil through the pipeline. The official
Iraqi News Agency said three people were killed and "a number of people"
were injured in yesterday's attacks. Besides the man at the pumping
station, the dead included a 3-year-old boy and a shepherd, the news
agency said. There was no immediate independent confirmation of the
reported casualties.

Three dead in US attacks: Iraq 
17:18 GMT, 28 February 1999

BAGHDAD, Feb 28 (AFP) -Three Iraqis were killed, including a child, and
several others were injured Sunday in US air raids on "farming villages"
in the northern no-fly zone [Nineveh province], an Iraqi military
spokesman said. Three year-old Mohsen Ibrahim and a shepherd, Mohammad
Hussein, were among the dead, he said, adding that several other
"citizens" were injured -- leaving it unclear whether they were
civilians or soldiers.

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