100 US and British aircraft bomb Iraq

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 8 Sep 2002 10:08:07 +0100

Bush urges big powers to help oust Saddam; Putin, Chirac, Jiang question
pre-emptive military strike; Congress approval of use of force runs into

WASHINGTON: As many as 100 US and British aircraft, including the dozen
that dropped precision bombs, raided a command and control centre in
western Iraq, The Daily Telegraph of London said. 

The paper described it as the biggest ever raid in four years. It said
that the aim seemed to be the removal of air defences to allow easy
access for special forces helicopters to fly into Iraq via Jordan or
Saudi Arabia to hunt down Scud missiles before a possible war. 

A Pentagon spokesman initially denied the report, saying that the
numbers of aircraft cited in the story were wrong. A dozen US and
British warplanes bombed a "critical command and control node" in
western Iraq in a raid that was larger than usual but not out of the
ordinary, the Pentagon said on Friday. 

"Was it bigger than most? It was bigger than the ones we'd done in the
last probably two weeks, but we've done strikes of that size several
times over the last 10 or 11 years," Brigadier General John Rosa, Deputy
Operations Director of the Joint Staff, said of Thursday's strike. 

Rosa confirmed, however, that 12 aircraft dropped 25 bombs on the
target, which was located at a military airfield 380 kilometres west of
and slightly south of Baghdad. He said he thought the Telegraph's
estimate of 100 aircraft in the air was high. He also acknowledged that
the strike was unusual in that it was directed at an air defence site in
western Iraq, whereas most previous strikes have been in the
southeastern part of the country. But he said the site was attacked
because coalition aircraft had come under fire while patrolling the no
fly zone. 

"When you look and see how they tie that system in, that's a critical
node in triangulating and looking and measuring where our airplanes are.
So if you take that node out, it makes it more difficult to track your
airplanes," he said. 

The strike was the 25th in southern Iraq this year by US and British
aircraft, enforcing a no-fly zone, Rosa said. Another 10 air strikes
have been carried out in the north. The tempo of air strikes subsided
during last year's war in Afghanistan, but picked up again this year.
And in Baghdad, an Iraq military spokesman confirmed that US and British
warplanes bombed targets in western Iraq on Thursday, the first in that
area in four years. 

Meanwhile, US President George W Bush on Friday attempted to persuade
France, Russia and China to back his goal of ousting Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein as he laid the groundwork for a UN speech next week. 

Bush called French President Jacques Chirac, Russian President Vladimir
Putin and Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who all have questioned any
pre-emptive military strike on Iraq. Each call lasted about 10 minutes,
officials said. 

Putin earlier expressed deep reservations about military force against
Iraq, and Chirac told Bush the UN Security Council should decide what
action to take if Baghdad rejected the return of UN weapons inspectors. 

The White House said it would dispatch envoys to Paris, Moscow and
Beijing to consult after Bush's address to the United Nations on
September 12. The three nations, along with the US and Britain, form the
permanent members of the UN Security Council. 

"The president told the foreign leaders that he values their opinions.
He stressed that Saddam Hussein is a threat and that we needed to work
together to make the world more peaceful," said White House spokesman
Ari Fleischer. 

Fleischer said Bush told them no decision had been made about what the
next step would be. He added all three had "expressed an openness to
listen" to Bush and his ideas and none had rejected outright what he had
to say. 

A White House official said the calls were the beginning of a process of
consulting with friends and allies "on how to remove the threat posed by
Saddam Hussein and his relentless acquisition of weapons of mass

The Kremlin said President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair
had called Putin within minutes of each other and said that Putin said
no to both of them. Putin underlined the potential for a political
solution to the Iraqi problem and expressed "deep doubts about the
justification of the use of force against Iraq", top Kremlin spokesman
Alexei Gromov said. He told Blair the use of force could have "serious,
negative consequences for the situation in the Gulf region, the Middle
East and for the future of the US-led anti-terrorism coalition", the
Kremlin said. 

In Paris, Chirac spokeswoman Catherine Colonna said the French president
told Bush that Iraq had to submit to outside controls and the
international community must be firm in demanding this. "If Iraq
continues to refuse the unconditional return of the inspectors, it is up
to the Security Council to take appropriate measures," she quoted him as

The US spokesman, who called the response from the three leaders
appreciative, said US envoys would be dispatched to each of the other
four Security Council capitals for continued consultations about Iraq
after Bush addressed the UN on September 12. But he added "the president
said that no decision had been made about what the next step would be". 

"No matter what decision the president may or may not make in the
future, the president will continue to talk to these leaders because
they play an important role," Fleischer said. Bush is to meet Blair on
Saturday at his Camp David, Maryland, presidential retreat. Iraq is also
likely to be the subject of talks on Monday between Bush and Canada's
Jean Chretien, who refused on Thursday to say whether he would endorse
military action against Iraq while noting that Washington has yet to
produce evidence that Iraq was building an arsenal of weapons of mass

Iraq's top representative to the UN maintained that his country had no
weapons of mass destruction, calling any potential US invasion a breach
of international law. 

In remarks to NBC television, UN ambassador Mohammad al-Duri insisted
"we have no such weapons at all", and warned that any war would be a
major challenge for the US. 

At home, Bush's hopes for getting Congress to approve a resolution
backing the use of force against Iraq if he decides it is necessary ran
into a potential roadblock, when the Senate leader said the Senate may
not vote on it before adjourning next month for November mid-term
elections. "We have to make the right decision ... it may be before the
(November congressional) election, it may be after," Senate Majority
Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota told CNN. 

Fleischer said since it appeared the House of Representatives would take
a vote before the adjourning, "It's just hard to imagine that somebody
would say we should wait until next year." Bush is facing demands from
some members of Congress for more evidence laying out the imminent
threat he says Saddam poses. 

There is much speculation that Bush will call for an ultimatum for Iraq
to allow UN weapons inspectors unfettered weapons inspections or face
military attack. Bolstering Bush's argument of an imminent threat, UN
experts studying satellite photos of Iraq have identified new
construction at several sites linked in the past to Baghdad's
development of nuclear weapons. They said they could draw no conclusion
on the significance, but the White House called the report "deeply,
deeply troubling". 

Source:  The News

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