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World - Middle East

U.S.-Iraq missile fight the 2nd this week


CNN's Jamie McIntyre reports from the Pentagon
Windows Media 28K 56K

Chicago group calls for end to sanctions on Iraq, defies threat of fines

Baghdad says 1 Iraqi killed, 2 wounded

December 30, 1998
Web posted at: 3:02 p.m. EST (2002 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. fighter jets fired missiles and laser-guided bombs at an Iraqi missile site Wednesday, after six to eight surface-to-air missiles were fired at British aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone, U.S. and British military officials said.

The Iraqi News Agency said one Iraqi farmer was killed and two other civilians were wounded. Iraq reported that it had "almost certainly shot down" one aircraft, but Pentagon officials said the U.S. and British planes returned safely to their bases.

The Arab League on Wednesday condemned the firing of missiles at Iraq, saying it "rejects the principle of resorting to force to settle conflicts and considers this U.S.-British action unacceptable."

The military confrontation occurred earlier Wednesday as British aircraft were conducting a routine patrol. The flyovers, in effect since August 1992, aim to protect Shiite Muslim Iraqis.

The Iraqis fired the surface-to-air missiles at the aircraft from a site southwest of Talil, near Ur, according to Maj. Joe LaMarca, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command.

He described the Iraqi attack as "unprovoked."

U.N. staff are removing leftover land mines and unexploded ordnance in northern Iraq that have killed 24,000 people between 1991 and 1997  

Iraq protests land-mine removal operations

The United States and Britain reported no problems in the northern no-fly zone, where patrols resumed despite Iraqi threats to shoot down fighter aircraft.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi government told the United Nations it objected to U.N. procedures for removing tens of thousands of land mines in Kurdish-dominated northern Iraq.

The United States and its allies have been patrolling that area since 1991 to protect the Kurds after a failed uprising against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Iraq contends the mine-removal operations are taking place without proper authorization, because the staff entered Iraq illegally. News correspondents said that likely means their entry was from Turkey, rather than government-controlled border posts. Iraqi Foreign Minister Saeed al-Sahaf asked U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to remove his staff.

Diplomats and U.N. officials estimate there are between 5 million and 10 million land mines and unexploded ordnance in northern Iraq from the 1991 Gulf War and from Iraq's long- running battles with Iran in the 1980s.

There have been some 24,000 fatalities between 1991 and 1997 from mines or ordnance, they said. Many of the land mine victims are women and children.

Under the U.N. Office of Project Services de-mining program, Iraqi citizens are being trained to help in the laborious and highly dangerous removal operation.

Correspondents John King and Jane Arraf and Reuters contributed to this report.

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