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Tuesday, April 6, 1999 Published at 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK

World: Middle East

Iraqi complaint over air raids

US and UK have not responded to Iraqi allegations

Iraq has complained to the United Nations that American and British air attacks have disrupted the flow of oil which Baghdad is allowed to export in exchange for food and medicines.

Standoff with Baghdad

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf called on the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to make a clear stand against what he described as "continuous aggression against Iraq."

Neither the US nor the UK has responded to the Iraqi allegations that facilities controlling the flow of oil via the Mina al-Bakr terminal on the Gulf were attacked last week.

[ image: Oil worker carries away debris after Friday's strike]
Oil worker carries away debris after Friday's strike
"We call upon you to take a clear and frank position on the continuous American-British aggression against Iraq," Mr Sahaf said in his letter to the UN.

"Silence over what Iraq being exposed to is unjustifiable."

Mr Sahaf wants the matter raised at the Security Council.

'Attacks on Friday and Sunday'

The Iraqi News Agency INA said western aircraft bombed and destroyed a key control station in Abu al-Khasib on Friday and another control station at Bazrkan oilfields near the southern city of Amarah on Sunday.

Kefa Kadem Newman believes the US and Britain are trying to disrupt Iraq's oil industry
A UN spokesman in New York later said that, according to UN advisers in the area, the flow through the pipeline was briefly interrupted on Sunday and was now running at about 55% of normal capacity.

US and British aircraft patrol the skies over northern and southern Iraq to enforce air exclusion zones set up to protect the Kurdish minority and Shi'a rebels.

Iraq does not recognise the existence of the zones.

Kosovo effect

Strikes on Iraqi military targets became an almost daily event after the four-day bombing of Iraq last December.

But the attacks on Friday were the first since 16 March, when American warplanes bombed air defence sites in northern Iraq.

Correspondents say Iraq's comments will inevitably raise questions about the ability of the US and Britain to suppress Iraqi air activity while they are involved in Nato's offensive against Serbia.

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