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Thursday, 26 September, 2002, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Iraq condemns US raid
F-16 warplane
F-16 fighters destroyed a radar system in Basra last year
A civilian airport and radar system in Basra, southern Iraq, were targets of an American air strike early on Thursday, according to Iraq.

Iraq satellite TV, quoting a senior ministerial official, said the "terrorist act" contravened international laws which Iraq had respected by registering the radar in 2001.

No mention was made of any casualties in the strike, which Iraq said happened at 0046 local time (2046 GMT on Wednesday).

A Pentagon official confirmed that a strike did take place, according to the Associated Press news agency.

The official said the strike - comprising two missions - was in response to Iraqi anti-aircraft missiles and artillery aimed at allied planes patrolling the skies above Basra, which is in the southern allied-imposed "no-fly zone".

US accused

The civilian radar system was destroyed and the main services terminal of Basra international airport was damaged in the attack, according to the Iraqi TV report.

It condemned the US for destroying a facility the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority had registered in October 2001 and for going against the "spirit and aims" of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

It is the second time Basra's radar system has been hit by a US raid.

It was attacked in August 2001, when US defence officials said it was being used for military purposes.

Tensions

The strike comes at a time of intense strain between Iraq and the US, which accuses Baghdad of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.

The US President George W Bush has declared that he wants to see "regime change" in Iraq.

The US and Britain have patrolled two "no-fly zones" meant to protect Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south since the end of the Gulf War in 1991.

The allies say they do not target civilians in their raids, which have resulted in regular skirmishes since 1991.

However, exiled Iraqi military officers have reported a recent build-up in attacks on communications sites and Iraqi air defence command centres - presumably as preparation for US-led invasion.

The attack on Basra followed two US attacks on installations in the same region on Tuesday, in which Baghdad says one civilian was injured.


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26 Sep 02 | Americas
24 Sep 02 | Politics
23 Sep 02 | Panorama
23 Sep 02 | Middle East
19 Sep 02 | Americas
26 Sep 02 | Americas
15 Jan 01 | Middle East
25 Sep 02 | Middle East
19 Feb 01 | Middle East
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