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FW: [no-sanctions] U.S. plans sustained strikes in Iraq

Subject: [no-sanctions] U.S. plans sustained strikes in Iraq
Date: Wed, Aug 15, 2001, 9:33 am

U.S. plans sustained strikes in Iraq
MSNBC, 14 Aug., 2001

Officials tell NBC of long-term campaign against Saddam

WASHINGTON, Aug. 14  The United States will conduct a sustained
campaign of air strikes against Iraqi military targets in an effort
to disable the country's increasingly effective air defenses, Bush
administration officials told NBC News on Tuesday after U.S. planes
bombed a radar site in southern Iraq, the second such attack in less
than a week.

THE DRAWN-OUT campaign was devised after the White House rejected
Pentagon plans for a more aggressive air strike that would take out
most of President Saddam Hussein's integrated air defenses in one
fell swoop, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reported.
The White House was concerned that a major attack would incite Arab
anger and aggravate the current Mideast tensions.
"Hitting targets one by one doesn't draw the same kind of attention
or reaction," said one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"It takes longer, but it should eventually get the job done."
The Iraqi site targeted Tuesday was a "low-blow" radar near An
Nasiriyah, about 170 miles southeast of Baghdad, that could be used
to guide surface-to-air missiles, officials said.
It's part of the same overall air defense system that was targeted in
Friday's attack, when British and American planes bombed three Iraqi
military sites.
U.S. Air Force F-16s bombed Tuesday's target with precision-guided
munitions and returned safely to their base, Defense Department
spokesman Bryan Whitman said.
"This radar has been an element of the Iraqi air defense system that
has been directly contributing to effectiveness of their integrated
air defense system," he said.
In Baghdad, a spokesman for the Iraqi air defense division said that
there had been a Western air attack on "infrastructure facilities" in
Missan province, 225 miles southeast of Baghdad. He gave no details
about whether there were any casualties.
Iraq in recent months has stepped up efforts to shoot down the allied
planes over the "no fly" zones in both southern and northern Iraq,
where allies have been patrolling since shortly after the end of the
1991 Gulf War to protect Shiite rebels against attacks by government
forces and to keep Saddam from threatening his neighbors.
"If Iraq were to cease its threatening actions, coalition strikes
would cease as well," said a statement from the U.S. Central Command
at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

There have been more than 1000 incidents of Iraqi surface-to-air
missile and anti-aircraft artillery fire against coalition aircraft
in northern and southern no fly zones since Dec. 1998, including more
than 375 this year, officials have said. Allied planes have struck
back some two dozen times, with the largest raids being in February
and last week.
While no Western warplanes have been shot down by Iraq, U.S. Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said recently that Iraq was improving its
air defenses "both quantitatively and qualitatively" with fiber-optic
communications cabling.
A fiber-optic air defense control center is near an-Numaniyah,
southeast of Baghdad, while the radar and anti-aircraft missile bases
are farther southeast, near an-Nasiriyah, U.S. defense officials have
Pentagon officials said last month the Iraqi military came close to
hitting a high-altitude U.S. U-2 spy plane with a missile on July 24.
Baghdad has denied firing at the plane, saying U.S. officials wanted
a pretext for a military attack on Iraq.

NBC's Jim Miklaszewski, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed
to this report.

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