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Allied planes hit Iraqi radar unit


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. and British warplanes attacked a mobile air defense radar unit at the civilian airport in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, Pentagon sources said Thursday.

Iraqi officials said the airport had been hit but that air traffic was continuing between Basra and Baghdad.

The United States considers the Basra airport a dual use, civilian-military facility, and officials noted there recently was a coalition strike at the same location against a similar portable radar base.

Iraqi transportable radar equipment is considered a fair target as the U.S.-led coalition tries to constrain Iraq's military capabilities.

Officials said there was no threat to civilians in the Basra raid because there was no civilian traffic at the airport at the time.

U.S. Central Command said U.S. forces attacked two air defense facilities early Thursday in Iraq's southern no-fly zone -- one in Basra and another in al Kufa, about 80 miles south of Baghdad.

Both attacks were in response to anti-aircraft fire, a Central Command spokesman said. No U.S. forces were injured in the attacks, he said.

The attacks happened around 12:45 a.m. (4:45 p.m. EDT Wednesday).

U.S. and British planes enforcing the northern and southern no-fly zones over Iraq have broadened their range of targets in recent months in order to inflict heavier damage on Iraq's air defenses, Pentagon officials said last week.

Coalition warplanes began enforcing the no-fly zones over Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War to stop Iraq from using its air force against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in the south.



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