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American aircraft attack Iraq, By Adel Darwish (fwd)

American and British aircraft raid Baghdad 
Iraq TV says children were killed in the raid
By Adel Darwish

United States and British Bombers carried out bombing raids on suburb of
The Iraq capital Baghdad this evening local time.  Air raid sirens were
heard at about 1930 local time in Baghdad, and there were reports of anti
aircraft fire and loud explosions. 

       "Baghdad has come under attack by American aggressors," an Iraqi
television presenter announced Shortly afterwards.  Iraqi television
interrupted its programmes and started to broadcast national songs. 

The Pentagon said the targets were Iraqi command and control centres south
of Baghdad to safeguard allied air patrols over a southern no-fly zone. 

The Iraqis say children were hit and three children have died in the

A pentagon spokesman said they hit five command control and radar systems
north of the 33 Parallel, but emphasised that non of the aircraft moved
north of the line, but used missiles to fire from a distance.  The
spokesman said the Iraqis have lately shown 'signs of sophistication '
when they were switching their raiders on to fire on American and British
aircraft patrolling the no fly zone. 

The spokesman wouldn't say what the British aircraft did exactly and
refused to answer questions about the roles of each party. 

In London A British Ministry of Defence spokesman said the raids were in
response to an increased threat to allied aircraft from Iraq's missile
defences in recent weeks. 

This is a departure from the policy carried out by the Clinton
administration by collecting intelligence data and launch an attack later
rather than responding to an immediate attack that happens while the
aircraft are patrolling the area. This also the first time the Iraqi
capital comes under attack since operation Desert Fox in December 1998.

While the Pentagon claims that the attack was outside Baghdad. Al-Jazria
TV showed pictures of antiaircraft tracer fires flaring over the capital

The 32 parallel marks the northern end of the southern no-fly zone imposed
by Britain and France to protect the Shia in the south from Saddam
Hussein's attacks. But the Iraq and some international lawyers say such
imposition is illegal and lacks the UN authorisation. France pulled out of
the patrolling operation leaving Britain and America alone.

Strategy experts say that if the Iraqis were able to fire at
Anglo-American aircraft from outside the no-fly-zone, then the whole
concept of a no-fly-zone is non-sense any way.

Analysts and diplomats here in London believe that the raid was
ill-conceived and will back fire causing more problems to the two
countries' interests in the region at a time when America's popularity
among Arabs is in its lowest point as a result of the daily
Israeli-Palestinian clashes. Many Arabs believe that America is not
pressurizing Israeli enough to help end the violence.

It looks like new president George Bush is putting on a display of
strength at a time when the United States policy in the Middle East is
failing to make an impact on the very explosive situation between Israel
and the Palestinians, and surly will increase, the already boiling Arab
anger against America. Once more it makes the Iraqi dictator the winner in
the game while his people go on paying the heavy price.

Adel Darwish, 
Media consultant & Writer on Foreign Affairs 
Editor of World Media Uk, London 


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