Russia criticises US for firing on an Iraqi anti-aircraft battery

MOSCOW: Dec 28 (South News) - The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the United States Monday for a revenge firing on an Iraqi anti-aircraft battery.

A communique quoted by the Interfax agency stressed the need to "abstain from actions which do not contribute to re-establishing an atmosphere favorable to a political resolution of the Iraqi problem."

US fighter planes blasted an Iraqi anti-aircraft battery Monday  13:37 local time (1037 GMT), killing four soldiers and wounding seven according to Baghdad, in the first major clash since four days of Allied air strikes. Three hours earlier an allied airspace violation was recorded but the planes withdrew under anti-aircraft fire.

The incident "cannot help but provoke preoccupation." The Russian foreign ministry communique said"We feel that after the recent events in the Iraqi crisis, it is more important than ever to not let the situation worsen in this region,"

The recent Anglo-American assault "Operation Desert Fox,"  prompted Moscow to recall its ambassadors to London and Washington. The Russian ministry called "on all parties to be reasonable, to remain calm, and to work towards lowering the tension in this region."

According to an Iraqi military communique, "Enemy planes flying out of Turkey violated Iraqi airspace at 13:37 local time (1037 GMT) and approached anti-aircraft positions before firing missiles on one of the positions," it said, adding that this killed four soldiers and wounded seven

US President Bill Clinton told reporters in Washington the US pilots were right to respond with force. "They attacked because they were attacked and they did the appropriate thing," Clinton said.

Turkish officials said the US warplanes were based at the southern Turkish base of Incirlik, and that one Iraqi missile was launched from a location near the northern Iraqi town of Mosul.