WASHINGTON - U.S. and British aircraft attacked
targets near Baghdad on Friday and President George W. Bush
said Washington would take ``appropriate action'' if Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein produced weapons of mass destruction.
U.S. Defense officials said 24 American and British planes
struck five Iraqi military targets five to 20 miles from
Baghdad using various long-range precision-guided weapons.
Iraqi television broadcast an official statement saying
planes had struck targets on the outskirts of Baghdad. The
statement was issued after a meeting of Iraqi leaders chaired
Relatives stand around the hospital bed of 11-year-old Munther Hammed at al-Yarmouk hospital in Baghdad, Iraq Friday Feb. 16, 2001. According to Iraqis at the hospital Hammed was injured Friday during airstrikes by U.S and British warplanes on five Iraqi military sites around Baghdad. (AP Photo/Jassim Mohammed)
``We will fight them in the air, on land and sea and their
aggression will achieve nothing but failure,'' it said. The
statement also blamed Kuwait and Saudi Arabia which provide
bases for coalition forces in the region.
Iraqi television said the attack was the first Western
strike against the capital since December 1998.
At Baghdad's Yarmouk hospital, physician Dr. Omar al-Abdali
said nine wounded people, some critically hurt, had been
The Defense Department said the planes had hit Iraqi air
defenses outside the Western-imposed no-fly zone south of
Baghdad. A spokesman said no further attacks were expected
President Bush, speaking after he had authorized the
strikes, told a news conference during a one-day visit to
Mexico that Washington was keeping a close eye on Iraq.
``We're going to watch very carefully as to whether or not
he develops weapons of mass destruction, and if we catch him
doing so, we'll take the appropriate action,'' said Bush, whose
father George Bush was president during the 1990-91 Gulf War
that drove invading Iraqis out of Kuwait.
George W. Bush, who took office on January 20, said the
United States would continue to enforce the no-fly zones
imposed after the Gulf War to protect a Kurdish enclave in
northern Iraq and anti-Baghdad Shi'te Muslims in the south.
The northern edge of the southern zone -- the 33rd parallel
-- lies just south of Baghdad.
Loud Explosions Heard
Published Saturday, February 17 4:30 AM SGT
by Agence France Presse
Russia condemns US-British air raids on Iraq
MOSCOW, Feb 16 (AFP) -
Russia condemned on Friday joint US-British air raids in Iraq, with a top defense ministry official accusing the new US administration of George W. Bush of ignoring international humanitarian norms.
"What the American military is in the process of doing, at the beginning of the new US administration, is a threat to international security and the entire international community," General Leonid Ivashov told Interfax.
Sirens wailed over Baghdad, loud explosions were heard and
anti-aircraft systems opened fire.
The Defense Department said the planes struck Iraqi radar
systems at about 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. EST.
Bush said the attack was a routine mission but had required
the President's personal authorization.
The British Defense Ministry said British and American
planes attacked six sites, comprising part of Iraq's integrated
Air Defense System.
``This was a proportionate response to a recent increase in
the threat to aircraft carrying out legitimate humanitarian
patrols in the southern no-fly zone,'' Defense Secretary Geoff
Hoon said in a statement.
A leading hawk in the Russian military, Colonel-General
Leonid Ivashov, condemned the air strikes and accused
Washington of acting like the world's policeman. Ivashov, head
of the military's foreign relations department, was quoted by
Itar-Tass news agency as saying this was a dangerous tendency.
Iraqi television showed Health Minister Umeed Madhat
Mubarak visiting Yarmouk hospital. Some of the victims shown on
television said they were wounded while walking in the
al-Mansur area in central Baghdad.
While there have been a number of strikes on targets in the
northern and southern no-fly zones, the last time Baghdad came
under attack was in December 1998.
The United States and Britain launched a four-day bombing
campaign in 1998 to punish Iraq for expelling U.N. arms
inspectors charged with eliminating the country's weapons of
© 2001 Reuters Limited