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Coalition forces strike Iraqi communications sites


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SPECIAL REPORT
•  Commanders: U.S. | Iraq
•  Weapons: 3D Models

(CNN) -- U.S.-led coalition aircraft hit Iraqi air-defense communication facilities Saturday southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, responding to what the U.S. military termed "hostile threats and acts" against patrols over the southern "no-fly" zone.

Operation Southern Watch aircraft struck three facilities, the U.S. Central Command said: near Al Kut, about 100 miles southeast of the Iraqi capital; Qal'at Sukkar, about 170 miles southeast of Baghdad; and Al Amarah, about 165 miles east-southeast of the city.

The attacks took place about 1 a.m. EST, and all the coalition aircraft returned safely, U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Pete Mitchell said.

There was no immediate response from Iraq.

Without a specific United Nations resolution, U.S. and British aircraft have enforced no-fly zones -- which Iraq does not recognize -- over northern and southern Iraq since the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991 to protect Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south from possible attacks by the Iraqi government.

Iraqi officials insist that the zones violate the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and Baghdad refuses to recognize them.

Since December 1998, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has challenged the enforcement by firing at coalition aircraft with surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery, and by targeting them with radar, Central Command said.

As of September, the Pentagon had counted more than 130 incidents of Iraqi surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery fire directed against coalition aircraft this year.



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