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Friday, 16 February, 2001, 21:40 GMT
Russia condemns Baghdad bombing
RAF Tornados
France and Russia have long opposed air strikes
United Nations Security Council members France and Russia have distanced themselves from the bombing of Baghdad by United States and British aircraft.


An affront to international security and the world community

Colonel General Leonid Ivashov
The head of the Russian Defence Ministry's international military co-operation department, Colonel General Leonid Ivashov described the attack as "an affront to international security and the world community".

The new US administration "is unfortunately showing that it relies on military force in disregard of international and humanitarian standards and principles," he said.

Paris did not immediately condemn the raids, but said it had no prior knowledge of them.


These attacks cannot be justified in international law

Tony Benn

"We were neither told nor consulted on these raids," a French Foreign Ministry spokesman told AFP. Air strikes on Iraq, supported by Washingon and London, have long been opposed by the other permanent members of the Security Council, China, France and Russia.

Palestinian support

According to reports on Iraqi TV huge demonstrations have been taking place in several Palestinian towns condemning the raids.

A caption appeared at 2330 local time (2030 GMT) in the course of a news bulletin which read: "news agencies have reported that huge demonstrations have erupted in several Palestinian towns, shouting 'Long live President Saddam Hussein' and condemning the new American aggression."

In London, Tony Benn, a veteran left-wing member of parliament in the ruling Labour Party, said he had written to Prime Minister Tony Blair requesting that parliament be recalled to allow the Defence Secretary to make a statement about the bombing.

"These attacks cannot be justified in international law and will certainly increase tension in the area at a time when the Palestinian Israeli situation is worsening," Mr Benn said.

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