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Sunday, January 24, 1999 Published at 15:00 GMT


US fighter bombs Iraqi installation

US aircraft are patrolling the northern and southern no-fly zones

A United States jet has attacked a surface-to-air missile system in Iraq's northern no-fly zone, a Pentagon spokesman has said.

The US reported that the F-15E Strike Eagle fighter was acting in self-defence, in the face of a missile system which posed a threat to coalition forces in the region.

The Pentagon spokesman said US forces, which fly out of Incirlik air force base in neighbouring Turkey, would continue to enforce the northern no-fly zone - established in 1991 to protect the Kurdish minority from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's forces.

The southern zone was set up in 1992 to protect southern Shiite Muslims, and prohibit attacks against Iraq's southern neighbours.

On Saturday, two American F-14 Tomcats and two F/A-18 Hornets on an Operation Southern Watch patrol mission dropped laser-guided bombs on a surface-to-air missile site in southern Iraq after Iraqi MiGs were alleged to have violated no-fly zones.

The strikes are part of a series of similar attacks on Iraqi anti-aircraft and radar sites since the US and UK air strikes against Iraq in December.

Saddam Hussein has repeatedly said that he will challenge the two UN-sanctioned zones in northern and southern Iraq.

On Friday, he was reported to be massing troops and weaponry in the south of the country.



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