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Friday, December 18, 1998 Published at 19:25 GMT


UK

Unrest as Tornados hit Iraq again

Anti-war demonstrators say the world is angry at the mounting civilian casualties

As British Tornados return to base after a second night's bombing over Baghdad some unrest appears in the UK about the aims over Operation Desert Fox.

The RAF said Friday night's sortie over Baghdad had been "very successful" and that the Tornados had safely returned to base in Kuwait.


Former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath: "The aims are unclear and the setting dubious"
But former Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath, said the setting for the conflict was "dubious" and the aims "unclear".

He told BBC Radio: "The Soviet Union is opposed to this as are a number of Arab countries."

Sir Edward, who tried in vain to mediate at the beginning of the 1991 Gulf War, said he was concerned at the way British foreign policy was mirroring that of the US.

Heath suspicious of Clinton's motives

He said: "The whole setting is so dubious, especially as the President of the United States has his own domestic problems."


[ image: Sir Edward Heath...
Sir Edward Heath..."The aims are unclear"
Sir Edward said it seemed as if President Clinton had been looking for a foreign policy coup to distract from the impeachment process.

"He went to Israel and wanted to bring a triumph in the Middle East. That didn't materialise and it seems strange that he should immediately have entered on this war in Iraq."

Sir Edward said the aims of Operation Desert Fox did not appear clear and added: "They don't even know if it's going to go on through [the Muslim holy month of] Ramadan."

Police attacked at anti-war demo

Meanwhile an anti-war demonstration in Whitehall turned violent on Friday with five police officers injured and five protesters arrested.

Scuffles broke out when some of the demonstrators tried to set light to a US flag outside the Ministry of Defence.

Inspector Chris Lester, of the Metropolitan Police, said thatb when his officers tried to extinguish the fire they were attacked with bottles and other missiles.

None of the police officers required hospital treatment. Two of the protesters were arrested on suspicion of assault, one for possessing an offensive weapon and two for public order offences.

The demonstrators - predominantly students from the Middle East - dispersed when their leader called them to prayer.

Later at a separate anti-war demonstration in London, which was addressed by Labour MP George Galloway, a policeman was knocked to the ground as he tried to arrest a middle-aged protester.


[ image: Tam Dalyell has warned of
Tam Dalyell has warned of "eternal war"
Veteran Labour MP Tam Dalyell says hundreds of Iraqi civilians could have been killed and a hospital destroyed during Operation Desert Fox.

Mr Dalyell, speaking at a peace vigil in Glasgow, said reliable sources in Baghdad had told him some cruise missiles had landed in residential areas.

Threat of 'eternal war'

He said: "Yesterday a hospital was destroyed and I now learn that missiles have landed in areas which are purely residential."

"We cannot be surprised at the mounting civilian casualties and, with them, mounting anger from around the world."

The Iraqi authorities have put the death toll so far at 25.

Mr Dalyell said: "If the inspectors couldn't find the weapons of mass destruction how on earth do we know where we should be firing cruise and tomahawk missiles?"

The Linlithgow MP said there was a real danger of "eternal war" between Britain and the US and the Muslim world.

Mr Dalyell, Mr Galloway and fellow left-wing Labour MPs Tony Benn and Alice Mahon signed a Commons Early Day motion on Friday with the simple message: "This House condemns the government's involvement in the air strikes on Iraq."

Meanwhile a letter from the chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Dave Knight, was delivered by hand to 10 Downing Street protesting "in the strongest terms" against the military campaign.





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