ad info

CNN.com
 MAIN PAGE
 WORLD
   africa
   americas
   asianow
   europe
   middle east
 U.S.
 LOCAL
 POLITICS
 WEATHER
 BUSINESS
 SPORTS
 TECHNOLOGY
 NATURE
 ENTERTAINMENT
 BOOKS
 TRAVEL
 FOOD
 HEALTH
 STYLE
 IN-DEPTH

 custom news
 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

  CNN WEB SITES:
CNN Websites
 TIME INC. SITES:
 MORE SERVICES:
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines
 pointcast

 DISCUSSION:
 message boards
 chat
 feedback

 SITE GUIDES:
 help
 contents
 search

 FASTER ACCESS:
 europe
 japan

 WEB SERVICES:

 

World - Middle East

Iraq says it will fire at planes in no-fly zones

graphic

December 26, 1998
Web posted at: 6:56 p.m. EST (2356 GMT)

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan said on Saturday that Iraqi forces would shoot at warplanes patrolling the no-fly zones in the north and south of the country.

In a Baghdad interview for Qatar's Al-Jazeera television, Ramadan was asked if Iraq would accept the overflights of U.S. and British aircraft maintaining no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq.

"We say frankly now that any violation of Iraqi airspace will be met by Iraqi fire," Ramadan said.

The United States, Britain and France set up the no-fly zones in the years after the 1991 Gulf War in order to halt Iraqi air attacks against Kurds in the north and against Shiite Muslims in the south.

Ramadan's statement came only a few hours after Iraq said its anti-aircraft guns had driven off attacking "enemy" warplanes -- an apparent reference to U.S. and British aircraft -- that had flown into Iraqi airspace from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

State-controlled Iraqi media have reported almost daily violations of the country's airspace since the United States and Britain ended four days of airstrikes against Iraq seven days ago.

As with the previous Iraqi claims, both Washington and London immediately rejected any involvement.

"There was no attack," a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, P.J. Crowley, said in Washington. "We had planes up enforcing the no-fly zone," part of normal operations.

A Pentagon spokesman said that at about 3:15 a.m. EST (8:15 GMT) the pilots of two British Tornados patrolling the southern no-fly zone reported seeing bursts of anti-aircraft fire about five miles (eight kilometers) to their rear.

"They exited the no-fly zone," said the spokesman, U.S. Army Major Paul Phillips.

A Ministry of Defence official in London said a British pilot reported fire at a considerable distance but said it was not hostile.

"We checked with our forces, and no one was fired on, or fired at anyone," he said.

Military experts told CNN that the latest Iraqi threat to fire on Western aircraft is for the most part meaningless, mainly because Iraqi anti-aircraft fire reaches an altitude of about 3,000 meters (10,000 feet), while U.S. and British jets patrolling the no-fly zone fly at about 10,000 meters (30,000 feet).

However, the patrolling aircraft are said to be carefully watching for any Iraqi attempts to target their aircraft with missiles.

In the Baghdad interview, Ramadan also repeated that inspectors of the U.N. special commission charged with eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction would never be allowed back after the U.S. and British air raids.

Iraq says that 62 soldiers and more than 40 civilians were killed in the bombardment.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


Message board:
Related stories:
Latest Headlines

Today on CNN

Related sites:

Note: Pages will open in a new browser window

External sites are not
endorsed by CNN Interactive.

SEARCH CNN.com
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

  
 

Back to the top
© 2000 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.