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Monday, May 10, 1999 Published at 21:16 GMT 22:16 UK


US planes hit Iraqi missile sites

Planes have hit sites around Mosul three times in a week

American planes flying from a base in southern Turkey have attacked Iraqi military sites near the city of Mosul.

The planes dropped laser-guided bombs on Iraqi anti-aircraft and command-and-control sites in self defence, according to US Air Force officials. All the planes involved are reported to have returned safely to base.

The Iraqi military claimed US and British warplanes attacked a civilian installation, injuring one person, according to the official Iraqi News Agency.

US and British planes patrolling air-exclusion zones over northern and southern Iraq have fired on Iraqi forces on the ground several times a week since December, when the allies carried out four days of intensive bombing.


[ image:  ]
Iraqi forces use radar, artillery and missile fire to challenge the US and British air patrols, provoking retaliatory attacks.

This was the third time in a week that targets near the Iraqi city of Mosul were hit by American planes.

Iraqi officials said a strike on Sunday in the south of the country killed four people.

Iraq does not recognise the legitimacy of either of the air exclusion zones, which are not covered by a specific United Nations resolution.

Monitoring in tatters

But the US and Britain argue that they are empowered to act by more general resolutions passed after the Gulf War in 1991.

International attention has drifted away from the Iraqi crisis since the Nato air campaign against Yugoslavia began in March but the low-level military conflict continues alongside a political stalemate.

The United Nations programme which is supposed to monitor the destruction of Iraqi weapons systems is in tatters and there is no sign that international sanctions against Iraq will come to an end as long as President Saddam Hussein remains in power.



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