Baghdad: Iraq condemned a US missile attack on Tuesday as "unjustified aggression" and denied its radar targeted British planes on patrol over a southern "no-fly zone," in the first such incident since 1996.
The F-16 fighter which fired the missile targeted drinking water reservoirs in an area where no military units operate, an official Iraqi spokesman said. The spokesman of the Ministry of Culture and Information, quoted by the official news agency INA, said the attack took place at 9:30 a.m. (0530 GMT) and targeted water reservoirs near the Gulf port of Umm Qasr in the Basra region of southern Iraq.
Iraqi anti-air defences were not activated, he said, accusing US and
British aircraft of violating Iraqi airspace. The spokesman said the U.S.
missile the missile hit water tanks seven miles north of Umm Kasr, an Iraqi
port near the Kuwaiti border.
US/British imposed Iraq no-fly zones
|The spokesman noted that the US military plane had earlier violated
Iraqi airspace, accompanied by British aircraft within the flagrant operation
of military interference in Iraq's internal affairs as has been the practice
by US and British Governments for several years in contravention of international
law and the UN Charter, which guarantee Iraq's sovereignty and territorial
The spokesmam denied that its radar locked onto British patrol planes Tuesday - the United States' justification for firing. An official at the Ministry of Culture and Information ``This is an unjustified, aggressive act. No radar was activated,'' said the official.
In the US, Pentagon officials said a F-16 fighter jet fired the missile at an Iraqi surface-to-air missile battery Tuesday after Iraqi radar locked onto the four patrol planes, an act that signals an intention to fire. A spokesman for the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., which oversees U.S. operations in the Gulf, said the F-16 fired a High speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) at the site about 1.30 A.M. EDT. A Central Command spokesman said 10 aircraft were on patrol near the city of Basra when the missile was fired -- four British GR1 Tornados and two EA6B Prowler electronic warfare planes and four F-16
Meanwhile in Chicago, an American NGO, "Voices in the Wilderness" said in a statement it joins proponents of nonviolence and disarmament, worldwide, in deploring the U.S. missile attack from aircraft in "Operation Southern Watch," the name given to the deny-flight mission which the US and several of its allies uses to patrol the no-fly zone.
Spokesperson Kathy Kelly said, "Beginning tomorrow, five Voices in the Wilderness members will engage in a different 'Southern Watch' mission as they travel overland, to Baghdad and the southern port city of Basra. There they will witness civilian suffering caused by nearly eight years of murderous UN/US economic sanctions against Iraq. While the exact death toll is uncertain, it is beyond doubt that hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, under the age of five, have died from malnutrition, epidemics of water-borne diseases, and a lack of basic medicines."