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Monday, February 1, 1999 Published at 11:35 GMT


Saddam offers 'Top Gun' reward

Iraqi gunners will get 25m dinars for bringing down a plane

Iraq's President Saddam Hussein has ordered cash rewards for members of the security forces who succeed in shooting down western aircraft patrolling the air exclusion zones in the north and south of the country.


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Air defence gunmen will get 25m dinars a plane - about $14,000 - an unimaginable amount of money for any Iraqi soldier.

The reward for for bringing down a missile is 10m dinars, and anyone who arrests an enemy pilot will get five million dinars, according to reports in a non-official Iraqi newspaper.

The BBC's correspondent in Baghdad, Rageh Omaar, says if the reported offer of a financial reward by the Iraqi leadership is true, it is further proof that this ongoing conflict over the air exclusion zones could spark a much wider confrontation.

War of attrition

Confrontations between western war planes and Iraqi forces over the air exclusion zones are taking place now on an almost daily basis.

Up until recently, western aircraft only responded either when fired upon or when they have been locked on to by missile units. But they have now been given much wider and more aggressive rules of engagement.

Iraq says that it does not recognise the legitimacy of the patrols and that it will confront them at all times.

American and British planes last hit targets in northern and southern Iraq on Sunday, allegedly acting in response to what American officials called Iraqi provocations.



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