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Guardian article on bombing

The following article appeared in today's Guardian. It incorrectly states
that the no-fly zones were "agreed by the UN" after the 1991 Gulf war,
despite the fact that previous articles in the Guardian (e.g. have stated that the
no-fly zones have no legal basis. 

The following discussion list posting discusses the legality
of the no-fly zones: (also see 352.html).

People might like to write to the Guardian to correct them on this matter?


Step-up in bombing of Iraq questioned 

Iraq: special report 

Richard Norton-Taylor 
Thursday June 8, 2000 

British bomber pilots have dramatically increased their strikes on Iraq in
the "secret war" against Saddam Hussein, official figures reveal. 
An estimated 150 bombs - 78 tonnes of weapons - have been dropped on
southern Iraq by British aircraft since December 1998. This compares with
2.5 tonnes over the previous six years. 

"There is now persuasive evidence that there is an attritional campaign
against the Iraqi ground-based air defence systems that has gone way
beyond the original purpose of the no-fly zones," Menzies Campbell, the
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said yesterday. "This
represents a significant policy shift, which has never been announced or
explained to parliament." 

Mr Campbell was given the figures by Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, in
response to a series of written parliamentary questions. Mr Hoon admitted
that on two occasions since December 1998, ordnance unleashed by British
aircraft "appears to have hit unintended targets". 

He also disclosed that the British commander in the southern no-fly zone
had asked the government to "attack targets beyond his delegated

He refused to explain the circumstances but sources suggested yesterday
that permission was sought to hit Iraqi aircraft moving north, away from
the no-fly zone. 

In military action which is rarely reported, Mr Hoon says that while Iraqi
aircraft violating the no-fly zone accounted for 51% of the "threats" to
British and US war planes, 95% of the targets attacked consisted of
ground-based air defence systems. 

Two no-fly zones, policed by British and American planes, were agreed by
the UN after the 1991 Gulf war. They were established to protect the Shia
minority in southern Iraq and Kurds in the north. 

"It's very good training but it is not achieving anything," Andrew
Brookes, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said
yesterday. He described it as a "sterile political mission of people who
can't think of anything better to do". 

Mr Hoon said Britain and the US went to "exceptional lengths to ensure
that the right target is hit, including the employment of very strict
target clearance procedures and precision-guided munitions". However, he
acknowledged: "In practice, it is extremely difficult to give estimates of
civilian casualties despite the painstaking battle damage assessment that
the coalition routinely carries out". 

Britain has 14 Tornado bombers stationed in Kuwait and Bahrain, and four
Jaguars based at Incirlik in Turkey. 


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