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Iraq news: civilians killed in attacks on Najaf on Sunday

*       Sunday: US warplanes kill 14 Iraqis and wound 17 (Associated Press)
*       INA reports rise in Sunday's death toll from 14 to 17 (Reuters)
*       Iraq buries its 17 dead after US air strike (Agence France-Presse)
*       UN deal to clean toxins from Iraqi lab sparks concern (CNN)
*       Technical problems in al-Baker port threaten to obstruct Iraqi
exports (Arabic News)

Pentagon officials refuse to deny or confirm Iraqi civilian casualties: "We
make every effort to avoid civilian casualties but Iraq must realize that we
will strike back to enforce the no-fly zones and to protect our airmen. The
best way for Iraq to avoid casualties is to stop provoking the attacks."

Iraq Says U.S. Warplanes Killed 14 
By Leon Barkho, Associated Press Writer, Monday, July 19, 1999; 2:17 a.m.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq says U.S. airstrikes have killed 14 civilians and
wounded 17 others, the highest death toll the nation has reported since it
started challenging planes maintaining no-fly zones. 
The planes entered Iraq from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and ``attacked our
civilian installations'' on Sunday in southern Iraq, the military said in a
statement carried by the official Iraqi News Agency. The U.S. forces'
Central Command in Florida said earlier its warplanes had attacked two
military sites in southern Iraq after Iraqi anti-aircraft guns fired at
aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone. However, U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ernest
Duplessis, a Central Command spokesman, said he could not confirm any
casualties. ``Battle damage assessment is ongoing. I can't substantiate what
they said,'' Duplessis said. 

Iraq said the ``enemy planes'' caused destruction at the sites hit, but did
not say the nature of the targets or their locations. Central Command said
the U.S. planes struck a missile battery near Abu Sukhayr, 200 miles south
of Baghdad, and a military communications site near Al Khidr, 150 miles
southeast of the Iraqi capital. The command said the U.S. planes used
``precision guided munitions'' to hit the targets. The U.S. statement did
not identify the nationality of the planes the Iraqi guns had fired at
earlier. U.S. and British planes patrol the no-fly zones, set up after the
1991 Persian Gulf War to protect Kurdish rebels in the north and Shiite
Muslims in the south. Iraq does not recognize the zones and has been
challenging the patrol planes since December.

In the previous heaviest toll, according to Iraq, allied warplanes killed 11
people, mostly women and children, in a missile strike Jan. 25 on the
low-income neighborhood of Jamhouriya in the southern city of Basra.

Also Sunday, international experts began the process of destroying poisonous
chemicals in a U.N. laboratory after four days of negotiations with the
Iraqi government. The five experts finally yielded to an Iraqi demand that
the destruction be witnessed by French, Russian and Chinese diplomats and
the U.N. envoy in Baghdad, Prakash Shah. The chemicals and samples of
biological warfare were left in the laboratory in Baghdad last year when
U.N. weapons inspectors evacuated Iraq on the eve of U.S. and British
airstrikes. The U.N. inspectors had been sent to verify that Iraq had
eliminated its weapons of mass destruction. After the airstrikes began, Iraq
said it would never allow them to return. 

Iraq Says Death Toll of US Attack Rising 
Monday, July 19, 1999, Arabia Online

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- Iraq said the death toll from Sunday's Western air
attacks on the south of the country rose to 17 from 14, the Iraqi News
Agency INA reported on Monday. "Manathira District in Najaf province came
under brutal attack yesterday by US planes leading to martyrdom of 17, most
of whom are women, children and elderly," INA said. The agency said the
number of injured had risen to 18 from 17. The raids on sites in the no-fly
zone in southern Iraq destroyed several residential houses, INA reported.
"Sixteen hostile formations implemented 14 sorties...and flew over regions
in the provinces of Basra, Muthanna, Dhi Qar, Najaf and Meisan and bombed a
number of our civilian installations...," INA on Sunday quoted a military
spokesman as saying.

The spokesman said the attacks took place on Sunday at (0720 GMT) and (1340
GMT). He said the bombing caused "material damage" to the installations
under attack. "Our brave missile and ground resistance forces intercepted
the hostile planes and forced them to leave our air space into the bases of
treachery in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait," the agency quoted him as saying. The
US military said on Sunday that US aircraft helping to enforce the no-fly
zone struck an Iraqi missile site after Iraqi gunners opened fire on
coalition aircraft. "The strike was in response to Iraqi anti-aircraft
artillery fire directed at coalition aircraft patrolling the southern no-
fly zone earlier today," the US command responsible for the region said.

Iraq buries its 17 dead after US air strike             
Monday, 19-Jul-1999 9:20AM, story from AFP / Kamal Taha 
Copyright 1999 by Agence France-Presse (via ClariNet)

BAGHDAD, July 19 (AFP) - Iraq said it buried 17 civilians on Monday, mostly
women, children and elderly people, slain in a US air strike on the south of
the embattled state, the deadliest in six months.
The bombing in the Najaf region on Sunday also left 18 wounded and destroyed
many homes, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported. The victims were
all buried the next morning in keeping with the Moslem tradition that the
dead be buried as fast as possible as a sign of respect. It was one of the
deadliest strikes since Britain and the United States waged an air war
against Iraq in December. "The US administration and its ally, Britain,
committed a new crime by carrying out an attack in the Najaf region," some
150 kilometres (90 miles) south of Baghdad, INA said. "The cowardly
aggression carried out by the US planes caused the martyrdom of 17 people,
mostly women, children and elderly people, and wounded 18 others," the
agency said.

Homes were also destroyed, INA said, in the region which centres around the
Shiite Moslem holy city of Najaf, housing the tomb of Ali, a key Shiite
religious figure. In Washington, the Pentagon said US fighter jets attacked
an Iraqi surface-to-air missile site and a military communications facility
after coming under anti-aircraft artillery fire. "We make every effort to
avoid civilian casualties but Iraq must realize that we will strike back to
enforce the no-fly zones and to protect our airmen," a Pentagon official
said. "The best way for Iraq to avoid casualties is to stop provoking the
attacks," he said.

On Sunday, an Iraqi spokesman said 16 formations of British and US planes
flew over the provinces of Dhi Qar, Basra, Missan, Muthanna and Najaf, all
within a no-fly zone imposed on Iraq by the United States and Britain. As
well as the bombing in Najaf there was a bombardment against civilian
infrastructure in the north of Iraq on Sunday, the spokesman said, although
no other casualties were reported.

In January, 24 civilians were killed when US missiles crashed on to
residential areas in the Basra region around 500 kilometres (300 miles) from
the capital, according to Iraqi officials. A month later, three civilians,
including a baby, died in another US-led strike, Iraqi officials said, while
seven members of a single family were killed in the north in April. And in
May, 12 civilians were killed in air strikes on a shepherd's camp and a
residential zone in the north of the country, according to Baghdad.
US and British planes enforce no-fly zones over southern and northern Iraq
after the 1991 Gulf War to protect the Shiite Moslems of the south and the
north's Kurdish population.

US Defence Secretary William Cohen said Thursday in Ankara that both zones
would stay in place "as long as (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein continues
to refuse to abide by and comply with UN Security Council resolutions." But
Baghdad does not recognize the zones, which are not covered by any specific
UN resolution, and has regularly fired at aircraft patrolling the zones
since December's air war. Iraq has said that 62 soldiers and a higher number
of civilians were killed during the four days of the air war dubbed Desert

U.N.'s deal to clean toxins from Iraqi lab sparks concern
July 16, 1999, Web posted at: 10:16 p.m. EDT (0216 GMT)

BAGHDAD, Iraq <iraq.baghdad.lg.jpg> (CNN) -- Britain on Friday asked U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan to explain why he allowed Russian, Chinese and
French diplomats to accompany a technical team sent to Iraq to remove
chemicals from a U.N. laboratory in Baghdad. Some U.N. officials and Western
diplomats believe Annan may have set a dangerous precedent by allowing Iraq
to essentially dictate the team's composition and the terms of its mission.
Meanwhile, team participants in Baghdad said they were still waiting for
direction from the diplomatic escorts before removing the toxins from the
laboratory. "We have had discussions with the observers, and the procedures
have been outlined to them," said Prakash Shah, a U.N. special envoy. "The
observers naturally wish to consult their capitals, and they have asked us
to await the reply from the capitals." In the meantime, he said the experts
-- from South Africa, Germany, China and Russia -- were working on technical
matters related to the clean-up.

The team arrived in the Iraqi capital on Wednesday to remove and destroy
samples of chemical and biological agents left behind when U.N. weapons
inspectors pulled out of Iraq last December ahead of U.S. and British
airstrikes. Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Saeed Hasan, said Iraq made it clear to
the U.N. that officials involved in the weapons inspection program would not
be allowed to participate in the clean-up -- and that the experts must be
accompanied by diplomats representing permanent members of the Security
Council. The team consists of four chemical experts from the Organization
for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, as well as an independent expert in
biological agents. On Friday, a British U.N. representative, David Richmond,
asked Annan's office for a full briefing on the situation, claiming that the
council had never been told what diplomats would be accompanying the
mission. However, U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida insisted that Annan
decided on the team's mission and composition "in full consultation with
(weapons inspectors) and the Security Council."

Technical problems in al-Baker port threaten to obstruct Iraqi exports
Arabic News, Iraq, Economics, 7/16/99

An oil source at the UN announced on Tuesday night that technical problems
in al-Baker port may obstruct Iraqi oil exports, despite the recent increase
in oil production.  The source added that the cost of maintenance which
exceeds US $500,000 is very necessary for the oil pipeline offloading area,
noting that the solution to this problem is through opening a new offloading
area near al-Baker port, at Khour al-Amya. 

Iraq currently exports some 2.2 million barrels of oil per day out of a
total production of 2.6 million barrels. Iraqi Oil Minister Amer Rashid has
announced that his country intends to raise its production capacity of oil
to three million barrels everyday as of December 1999 and to 3.5
billion barrels daily before the end of next year. 

The source stated that these expectations can be met but under the
conditions of continued arrival of spare parts needed to repair the
infrastructure.  So far Iraq has received spare parts at a cost of US $44
million out of spare parts as a cost of US $300 million approved by the UN
Security Council. 

Meanwhile, sources at the UN Security Council reported that the UN sanctions
committee is obstructing approval of spare parts contracts valued at US $100
million. The UN has allowed Iraq the import of oil valued at US $5.2 billion
every six months. The US resolutions state that half of the crude oil to
goes through Turkish pipelines and the second half is to flow through
al-Baker port on the Gulf. 


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