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[casi] Planes Raid Iraqi Oil Plant


Planes Raid Iraqi Oil Plant, Four Killed-Residents
Sun December 1, 2002 06:18 AM ET

By Huda Majeed Saleh

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Western warplanes killed four people in a strike on a
southern Iraqi oil plant, according to local residents, as U.N. arms experts
inspected an agricultural facility and military complexes near Baghdad.

Residents of the southern port city of Basra told Reuters by telephone that
the planes, patrolling a southern "no-fly" zone, hit an oil facility in the city
at around noon. They said four people died and several others were wounded.

U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, said it had no information on the
report. "We have nothing on it," Lieutenant Colonel Martin Compton said.

U.S. and British warplanes police two no-fly zones in southern and northern

"U.S. and British warplanes raided the Southern Oil Company in Basra. Four
people were martyred and several others wounded during the raid," one resident,
who asked not to be identified, told Reuters by telephone from the port city.

Last Thursday Iraq said that one civilian had died in a strike by Western
planes in northern Iraq, and on November 15 it reported seven had died in sorties
by U.S. and British aircraft.

On the fourth day of inspections in the hunt for Iraqi weapons of mass
destruction, a team of U.N. experts drove to an airstrip for small planes used in
spraying pesticides on crops at Khan Bani Saad, some 30 km (20 miles) northeast of
the Iraqi capital. The facility is run by the Agriculture Ministry.

The experts blocked anyone or anything from entering or leaving it and stopped
the Iraqi employee in charge of warehouses from going in with them. Journalists
were also stopped from entering the facility.

A second inspection team went to Ibn Firnas military industrial compound at
Rashidiya, 20 km (12 miles) northeast of Baghdad. The compound, run by the
Military Industrialization Commission (MIS).

After spending around two hours there, the inspectors left and went into a
nearby facility, run by the MIS's al-Quds Company.

Ibn Firnas chief Ibrahim Hussein said the facility produces spare parts for
fighter jets and helicopters. He denied any links to banned weapons and said his
staff cooperated fully with the inspectors.

"We hope that in as much as we cooperated with the inspectors, they would deal
with things objectively and professionally to reveal the fact and thus lead to the
lifting of the unjust sanctions," Hussein told reporters.

Weapons inspections resumed in Iraq on November 27 after a four-year gap in
line with a U.N. resolution passed last month giving Baghdad one last chance to
disarm or face war.

Iraq, which denies it has any nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, has
pledged full cooperation with the inspectors. It has to submit a declaration of
any banned weapons by December 8.


An Iraqi official newspaper said on Sunday the inspections would prove Iraq
was free of banned weapons but that might not be enough to avert war.

"No one in the world should be surprised if the evil-doers in Washington and
London manufactured a new problem or crisis at any day," al-Thawra daily said.

"Their real goal is not to make sure that Iraq is free of weapons of mass
destruction, which they know it is, but to look for a pretext for aggression."

It said sites visited last week were alleged by President Bush's
administration and the government of British Prime Minister Tony Blair to be
involved in weapons of mass destruction weapons. It said the inspectors found

"But will the Bush administration and Blair government refrain from making
allegations and claims? Will they refrain from creating problems? Will they stop
from creating new pretexts?" Thawra said.

It also warned that spies could infiltrate the inspections teams to create

On Saturday, the inspectors, from the U.N. Monitoring, Verification and
Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),
examined two Iraqi military industrial plants and an army base.

The UNMOVIC team examined the Iraqi army post near Balad, 75 km (48 miles)
north of Baghdad, a site identified by Iraq as "sensitive" -- which in the past
only meant limited access for the inspectors.

The site, known as the Chemical Defense Battalion and which reports to a unit
of the Ministry of Defense, conducts training activities in the area of chemical,
biological and radiological defense for military personnel.

On Sunday, the inspectors were expecting the arrival of the first of several
helicopters. The shipment, arriving by aircraft, would include electronic
equipment ordered by the inspectors to scan their operations center at Baghdad's
former Canal Hotel against possible bugging.

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