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Iraq (No-fly Zone)

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his 
Department's estimate is of the number of Iraqi civilians killed as a
result of coalition aircraft responding to threats in (a) the northern and 
(b) the southern no-fly zone in Iraq between (i) 1 April 1991 and 16
December 1998 and (ii) since 20 December 1998 through (A) collateral damage, 
(B) attack on an unintended target and (C) malfunction of
ordnance; what percentage of attacks in the no-fly zones resulted in 
civilian casualties over each of these periods, and if he will make a
statement. [145423]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the right hon. and learned Member to the answer I gave on 
6 June 2000, Official Report, columns 168-69W.

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many 
occasions coalition aircraft patrolling the (a) northern and (b)
southern no-fly zone in Iraq have hit targets different from the intended 
target since 20 December 1998; on what dates each attack took place;
what percentage these represented of overall attacks during this period; and 
if he will make a statement. [145425]

Mr. Hoon: The coalition goes to exceptional lengths to avoid hitting 
anything other than the intended target, including through the use of very
strict target clearance procedures and precision guided munitions. We also 
routinely conduct painstaking battle damage assessment after every
bomb is dropped. For these reasons we are confident that, in the vast 
majority of cases, ordnance released by coalition aircraft lands on or very
close to its intended target.

I am withholding detailed information on the activity undertaken by 
coalition aircraft in accordance with Part II of Section 1c of the Code of
Practice on Access to Government Information.

For the period 20 December 1998 to 12 May 2000, I refer the right hon. and 
learned Member to my answer to his question on 6 June 2000,
Official Report, columns 168-69W. There have been no further occasions of 
ordnance from UK aircraft appearing to hit unintended targets. The
weapons released on these two previous occasions still represents some 1 per 
cent. of ordnance released by UK over this period.

23 Jan 2001 : Column: 533W

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many 
occasions (a) coalition and (b) UK aircraft patrolling the
southern no-fly zone in Iraq have released ordnance in response to 
violations since 1 November 2000 indicating in percentage terms for this
period the (i) nature of the threat, (ii) category of the target attacked 
and (iii) tonnage of ordnance released on each category of target (A) in 
total
and (B) as proportion of the overall tonnage released in this period; and if 
he will make a statement. [145461]

Mr. Hoon: Between 1 November 2000 and 12 January 2001 coalition aircrew 
conducting legitimate humanitarian patrols in the southern no-fly
zone were directly threatened by the Iraqi air defence forces on 24 
occasions and responded in self-defence on nine occasions against Iraqi
military facilities posing a direct threat to coalition forces. UK aircraft 
released ordnance on four occasions. Details of the threats to coalition
aircraft, broken down by percentage, are:


     (i) Nature of threat by percentage


     Aircraft Violations of Southern no-fly zone: 3 per cent.


     Anti-Aircraft Artillery/Surface to Air Missile Firings: 97 per cent.


     (ii) Category of Target Attacked by percentage


     Integrated Air Defence System: 100 per cent.


     (iii) UK Weapons Released against Integrated Ground Based Air Defence 
System


     (a) By tonnage: 4 tonnes


     (b) By percentage: 100 per cent.

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many 
occasions since 20 December 1998 his Department has
been able to verify the claims of civilian casualties due to coalition 
aircraft activity over the no-fly zones made by the Government of Iraq; what
percentage of Iraqi claims of civilian dead his Department considers to be 
accurate in relation to (a) number of dead and (b) occasions when
coalition activity has resulted in casualties; and if he will make a 
statement. [145468]

Mr. Hoon: The Ministry of Defence has no objective means of verifying Iraqi 
claims of civilian casualties. I am not therefore in a position to
provide the precise information requested by the right hon. and learned 
Member.

Coalition aircraft conducting legitimate, entirely humanitarian patrols of 
the Iraqi no-fly zones are being repeatedly attacked by Iraqi forces.
Faced with these acts of aggression coalition aircraft, acting entirely in 
self-defence, only ever target Iraqi military facilities that pose an
immediate and serious threat to their safety. It is deeply regrettable that 
they are forced to take this action, but they are only acting in
self-defence. The risk of civilian casualties is always a major 
consideration during the very careful target selection process and only
precision-guided weapons are used where there is any risk of civilian 
casualties.

As the right hon. and learned Member implies, Saddam Hussein routinely 
claims that civilian casualties have been caused as a result of
coalition activity over the no-fly zones. It is in his interests to do so. 
We learnt long ago not to give too much credence to these allegations. We
conduct careful battle damage assessment (BDA) after every incident; this 
analysis demonstrates in the majority of cases that the coalition
weapons have, acting in self-defence, in fact hit their intended military 
target. The

23 Jan 2001 : Column: 534W

Iraqis regularly claim that there have been civilian casualties on days when 
the coalition has not even patrolled, let alone dropped any ordnance,
and we know that they routinely claim that civilians have been killed when 
the casualties were actually military personnel. We know also that
Saddam has claimed the coalition was responsible for casualties that were in 
fact caused by Iraqi air defence weapons.

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much 
additional expenditure has been incurred by his Department as a
direct result of operations in the Gulf (a) between 1 August 1992 and 15 
December 1998 and (b) since 16 December 1998, indicating in each
time period the percentage of that expenditure relating to (i) personnel, 
(ii) base expenses, (iii) munitions, (iv) aircraft and fuel, (v) 
intelligence
and (vi) other; and if he will make a statement. [145424]

Mr. Hoon: The information is not available in the form requested. The table 
sets out the total additional expenditure incurred by the Ministry of
Defence as a direct result of operations in the Gulf from 1992-93 onwards.

   Year
          million
1992-93
         551
1993-94
         179
1994-95
         58
1995-96
         14
1996-97
         6
1997-98
         16
1998-99
         35
1999-2000
         28
2000-01(9)
         24


(9) Estimate


This expenditure relates to residual costs incurred during the Gulf War, the 
enforcement of the no-fly zone since 1991 and the associated
deployments of naval, air and ground forces in support of our policy of 
containing Iraq. These figures do not include routine naval deployments to
the Gulf.


33. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and 
Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with
opposition groups in Iraq about the effect of sanctions. [145067]

Mr. Hain: Ministers and officials keep in regular contact with 
representatives of the Iraqi opposition on all aspects of our Iraq policy. 
The Iraqi
National Congress, perhaps the most significant opposition grouping, makes 
clear that it holds Saddam Hussein directly responsible for the
suffering of the Iraqi people, and wishes to ensure that he can never again 
attack his own people or his neighbours with weapons of mass
destruction.

35. Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth 
Affairs if he will make a statement on Iraq. [145069]

Mr. Hain: Ten years after the outbreak of the Gulf war, we remember the 
allied service-men who lost their lives in the successful operation to
expel Iraq from Kuwait. Kuwait is now prospering free from Iraqi tyranny. 
However, we should not forget the Kuwaitis missing since the
occupation. I urge Iraq to co-operate with the Tripartite Commission, which 
is tracing the Kuwaiti missing.

Since the Gulf war, our policy has contained the threat posed by the Iraqi 
regime. In the last 10 years, Iraq has not used chemical weapons
against the Kurds or Iran or invaded its neighbours. Nor has it fired Scud 
missiles at Israel or Saudi Arabia. Before sanctions, Iraq did all of
these. That is why Britain will continue to support sanctions and the no-fly 
zones until Iraq no longer represents a threat. This anniversary should
be a reminder to us all of why it is necessary to contain the Iraqi threat 
now as it was 10 years ago.

United Nations Security Council resolution 1284 offers Iraq a way out of 
sanctions. It allows for the suspension of sanctions in return for Iraqi
co-operation with UN weapons inspectors. Britain wants to see sanctions 
suspended. Critics of sanctions should unite with us in calling on the
regime to take up this offer rather than playing into Saddam's hands by 
supporting his defiance of the UN and international law and prolonging
sanctions. Sanctions could be suspended in a matter of months if UN weapons 
inspectors are allowed into Iraq to control Saddam's biological,
chemical and nuclear weapons capabilities, which are threatening the region.
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