US accounts on conduct of Iraq war start coming out of S. Arabia

  • From: "" <muslim_affairs@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <news@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 8 Apr 2003 12:23:15 +0100

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly said it will have no part in the US-led war
on Iraq, but at least two accounts from the US military command on the
conduct of the campaign have come out of the kingdom in the past 24
The Central Command Sunday issued a statement from the Prince Sultan Air
Base in Al Kharj, 80 kilometres south of Riyadh, in which it
acknowledged that its warplanes might have mistakenly attacked a joint
US-Kurdish convoy in northern Iraq. 

The statement was released at Centcom's forward operating base in Qatar.

On Saturday, the US general commanding the air war against Iraq,
Lieutenant General T. Michael Moseley, held a telephone conference call
with reporters from his headquarters in Saudi Arabia in which he
announced that US fighter aircraft were stacked up around the clock over
Baghdad to provide air support for troops in the city. 

On March 29, the New York Times published interviews with a number of US
officers manning an advanced command and control system at the Prince
Sultan base in which they said they were directing the war on Iraq. 

The paper said that dozens of men and women were working around the
clock at the centre "to decide where the missiles and bombs will explode
in Iraq." 

"Occasionally the targets are wrong, sometimes the munitions stray,"
said Captain Mike Downs, a "chief of targets" in the Guidance
Apportionment and Targeting Unit. 

"I've studied it for a long time, so I certainly know what I'm looking
at," Captain Downs said of the Iraqi capital. He is based in Germany but
has been on assignment in Saudi Arabia since early February, according
to the paper. 

Riyadh has said it would "under no circumstances" take part in military
action against Iraq. 

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal on Tuesday denied that the
command and control system at Prince Sultan base was being used to
direct the war which began March 20. 

"Targeting Iraq is not done from Prince Sultan Air Base. The only duty
given to the US troops (there) is to enforce the no-fly zone over
(southern) Iraq," he told reporters. 

Prince Saud also denied that the kingdom had granted the United States
permission to fire cruise missiles over its airspace, saying "there was
no permission asked and none given." 

But a Saudi Islamist opposition group charged on Saturday that while
feigning to oppose the war on Iraq, the Saudi government was granting US
and British forces facilities to conduct the campaign. 

"No less than 400 US and British fighter jets, transport aircraft and
reconnaissance planes are taking off from Prince Sultan Air Base," said
the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia in a statement posted on its

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