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Saddam warns West on Iraq flights

Saddam said he will retaliate over violation of Iraqi air space  

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- President Saddam Hussein has warned the U.S. against continuing to fly military aircraft over Iraq.

In Wednesday's televised speech, marking the 13th anniversary of the Iran/Iraq cease-fire agreement, Saddam urged Washington and London to withdraw their forces from the Persian Gulf region, saying Baghdad was entitled to upgrade its air defence systems.

The Iraqi president's comments came a day after British and U.S. planes bombed an Iraqi multiple rocket launcher in the north of the country.

He said: "If you care that your pilots and your aircraft are not harmed by the weapons of the high-spirited freedom fighters of great Iraq, then take your aircraft and battleships and go home."

U.S. planes bomb Iraqi rocket launcher  

Washington said last week Iraq had upgraded its air defence network against western aircraft policing the no-fly zones in the north and south of the country.

But Saddam said the U.S. was using Iraq's defensive arsenal as an excuse to attack the country. He likened this to the launch of the Gulf War in 1991 and similar attacks on the country that followed.

Message Board: Iraq  

"Do you know the pretext this time? (Washington) is saying that Iraq is threatening the American aircraft of aggression, which break through its air, trespassing upon its skies, sovereignty, land, people and wealth," Saddam said.

Northern and southern no-fly zones were put in place over Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War as part of an effort to prevent the Baghdad government of Saddam from persecuting the minority Shiite Muslims in the south and the Kurdish population in northern Iraq.

• U.S. Department of Defense
• U.S. Air Force
• Iraqi National Congress

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