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Clinton: Strike sends message to Saddam

Clinton

Iraq says 5 Iraqis killed, 19 wounded

September 3, 1996
Web posted at: 12:20 p.m. EDT (1620 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton said Tuesday that the U.S. missile attack against Iraqi targets was in retaliation for Iraq's assault on a Kurdish-controlled city in northern Iraq.

Navy ships and Air Force B-52 bombers fired a total of 27 cruise missiles at "selected air defense targets" in southern Iraq for about a 45-minute period beginning midmorning, the Pentagon told CNN.

"Our objectives are limited, but clear," the president said. "To make Saddam pay a price for the latest act of brutality, and to reduce his ability to threaten his neighbors and America's interests."

iconClinton (745 K AIFF or WAV sound)

"Our missiles sent the following message to Saddam Hussein: When you abuse your own people or threaten your neighbors, you must pay a price," Clinton said. ( 27 sec. 343K QuickTime movie)movie icon

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, in a defiant speech on Tuesday, urged his warplanes and anti-aircraft gunners to attack U.S. and allied planes policing air exclusion zones in the southern and northern parts of Iraq.

Saddam, wearing his field marshal's uniform, also called on his troops to resist the United States, urging them to give Washington "a new lesson in the meanings which they (Americans) with their empty... souls do not carry."

map An Iraqi army spokesman said Tuesday that five people were killed and 19 wounded, including civilians, in a missile strike on air defense positions in south Iraq.

"Our sacrifices were five martyrs and 19 wounded among them a group of civilians. A number of residential houses for the citizens were destroyed," the spokesman for Iraq's general command of the armed forces, quoted by state television, said.


firing
(20 secs/930K QuickTime movie)movie icon

Clinton ordered the air strike against southern targets after Iraqi forces overran the Kurdish city of Irbil, in the "safe haven" in northern Iraq. The purpose of the Iraqi assault was apparently to put a Kurdish faction loyal to Saddam in charge of the city.

Irbil was to be a key distribution center for humanitarian supplies purchased by Iraq under a U.N. resolution allowing a limited easing of the sanctions placed against the country after Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990.

"Until we are sure these humanitarian supplies can actually get to those who need them, the plan cannot go forward," Clinton said.

no-fly zone

The U.S., Britain, and France announced that Wednesday the southern no-fly zone -- north from the Kuwaiti border -- would be expanded from the 32nd parallel to the 33rd, allowing allied planes to fly within 30 miles of Baghdad. The expanded no-fly zone is intended to serve as a warning to Saddam that his aggression would not be tolerated, Clinton said.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said in a live interview on CNN that Iraq considered the Iraqi action in Irbil "legitimate" to dispel a faction allied with Iran, and reiterated claims that the Iraqi troops had pulled back to the positions they held before Saturday's assault.

iconAziz (373 K AIFF or WAV sound)

Aziz "What the United States did this morning against Iraq was illegitimate," Aziz said.

icon Aziz (625 K AIFF or WAV sound)

Clinton said claims that Iraqi troops had withdrawn were not good enough.

"The withdrawals announced by Iraq do not change the reality," he said. "Saddam Hussein's army today controls Irbil, and Iraqi units remain deployed for further attack. These acts demand a strong response."

icon Clinton (2 MB AIFF or WAV sound)

Clinton did not rule out further military action against Iraq.

"It depends on what (Saddam) does -- not what he says -- what he does," said the president.

In a speech televised on Iraqi television Tuesday, Saddam called the no-fly zones "null and void," and called on Iraqi forces to shoot down allied planes that fly through the region.

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