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Friday, 10 August, 2001, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Allied planes bomb Iraq
F-16 fighter plane
The raid was the biggest against Iraq since February
British and American war planes have attacked air-defence sites in southern Iraq in the heaviest raids against Iraq by coalition forces for six months.

An Iraqi military spokesman told the official Iraqi news agency that one person was killed and 11 injured in the attack.

He said that civilian facilities in Wassit and Zi Qar provinces were targeted.

But the Pentagon said three targets which were "contributing to the effectiveness of the Iraqi air defence system" were destroyed.

They included an air-defence control centre, an anti-aircraft missile site and a long-range radar station.

A US military official told French news agency AFP the raid was in response to "recent increases in air-defence firings against coalition aircraft."

Saddam Hussein
The US has vowed to continue pressure on Saddam
The Pentagon said about 20 US and British attack planes and 30 support aircraft carried out the attack at midday local time (0930 GMT).

It was the second raid this week and the most intensive since 16 February when Allied planes attacked air-defence targets near Baghdad.

US military officials said all the planes returned safely from Friday's mission.

Iraqi threat

On Tuesday, US warplanes bombed an air-defence facility near the city of Mosul in northern Iraq.

Last month, President George W Bush said the United States would continue putting pressure on Saddam Hussein after an unarmed U2 spy plane on a reconnaissance mission was almost shot down by an Iraqi missile.

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also warned earlier this month that Allied planes faced increasing danger after Iraq had succeeded in improving its air defences.

The White House says Iraq has recently stepped up its efforts to shoot down planes patrolling the no-fly zones over the north and south of the country.

Iraq's determination was underlined in a speech on Wednesday by Saddam Hussein, who warned America and Britain to leave Iraqi airspace or face retaliation.

He said: "If you want to save your pilots and planes from the fire of the courageous combatants of Iraq, you must leave and take your planes and warships with you, and stop attacking Iraq."

The no-fly zones, within which Iraqi aircraft are forbidden from flying, were set up after the Gulf War to protect Shia Muslims and Kurds from attack by Iraqi government forces.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond
"Bombing three particular sites... all of those are part of this air defence network"
See also:

26 Jul 01 | Middle East
Bush to counter Iraq 'menace'
26 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iraq 'nearly downs' US spy plane
17 Feb 01 | Middle East
Iraq defiant over missile attack
03 Jul 01 | Middle East
Iraq escapes 'smart sanctions'
02 Jul 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Iraq wins sanctions battle
29 Jun 01 | Middle East
Iraq outburst over UN sanctions
27 Jun 01 | Middle East
UN deadlock over Iraq sanctions
27 Feb 01 | Middle East
Powell's new plans for Iraq
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