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Saturday, July 31, 1999 Published at 00:52 GMT 01:52 UK


World: Middle East

'Nine killed' in new Iraq raids

Iraq says 17 people have died in two days of air raids

Iraq says nine people have been killed in new air strikes by US and British planes, bringing the death toll to 17 in two days.


The BBC's Mark Devenport on the escalating clashes
A military spokesman said six people were killed and 21 injured in raids on the north on Friday, while three died and two were injured in the south.

The US military says its planes bombed anti-aircraft installations after coming under fire while patrolling the northern no-fly zone.

There was no Western report of an attack in the southern no-fly zone.


[ image:  ]
But the Iraqi military spokesman said "22 hostile formations'' flew over regions in Basra, Muthanna, Dhi Qar, Najaf and Meisan in the south.

The attacks "led to the martyrdom of three citizens and the injury of two," he added.

Western aircraft patrol two no-fly zones declared after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq and Shi'ite Muslim dissidents in the south from Baghdad's air power.

The Pentagon said the latest raids were in response to an increasing number of challenges to allied planes patrolling the zones.

Funeral

The strikes followed raids on Thursday in which Iraq says eight civilians were killed and 26 injured.

Iraqi television showed pictures of a funeral procession for the dead in Kut, the capital of Wasit province 170km south of Baghdad.

A military statement said the attacks were against economic installations.

But US commanders insisted the raids only targeted military sites.

On Thursday, the Pentagon said that Western planes patrolling the no-fly zones had conducted 108 air strikes against Iraq so far this year, 65 in the north and 43 in the south.





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