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Tuesday, March 9, 1999 Published at 21:32 GMT


US no-fly strikes criticised

No-fly zone missions are continuing

The United States is facing renewed opposition to continued air strikes against Iraq.

The Qatar foreign minister said his country did not wish to see Iraq suffer daily bombings.

His warning came as the US said its planes had been bombing positions in northern Iraq.

US Defence Secretary William Cohen, who is on a tour of the Gulf region, said air strikes would continue until Iraq stopped trying to shoot down warplanes policing no-fly zones over Iraq.

Qatar Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said: "We do not wish to see Iraq bombed daily or these attacks which are being made in the no-fly zones.

"We have different opinions [to the US] but the main issue is how to bring peace and stability in the area."

Iraqi suffering

Qatar is one of a number of moderate Gulf states which has supported the US but diplomats say there is growing concern about the suffering of ordinary Iraqis.


[ image: US crews: In the front line]
US crews: In the front line
The Qatar foreign minister said: "We strongly believe that the problem of Iraq has to be solved by the UN Security Council."

Mr Cohen responded to the criticism by saying it was in Iraq's power to stop the bombings.

He said: "The way for the attacks to stop is for Saddam Hussein to simply stop trying to violate the no-fly zones and stop trying to kill our pilots."

Mr Cohen later flew on to Kuwait where he met US air crews.

He said: "We have a policy of containing Saddam Hussein. We are going to make sure that he doesn't go north and he doesn't go south. Things are not going to change as far as Saddam Hussein is concerned."

Military action

US F-15 warplanes "acting in self-defence" hit several artillery sites around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Tuesday, a US military spokesman said.

On Monday, Reuters news agency said that one person was injured in attacks near Mosul, although a Pentagon spokesman said he had no such reports.

Last week, similar strikes damaged a pipeline carrying crude oil from Iraq to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. Oil pumping has since resumed.

The no-fly zones were set up after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Kurds in the north and Shi'a Muslims in the south but are not recognised by Baghdad.



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