IRAQ says U.S.-British airstrike kills 23; Allies deny charge - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

IRAQ says U.S.-British airstrike kills 23; Allies deny charge


BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq claimed Wednesday that a U.S.-British airstrike on a soccer field in the north killed 23 people and injured 11 others, but U.S. and British authorities categorically denied the accusation.

The Iraqi News Agency said the planes attacked the sports field in Tall Afar, 275 miles northwest of Baghdad, the capital. It did not say when the attack took place, but it said the victims were buried earlier Wednesday.

``America and it's ally, Britain, have committed a new ugly crime that will be added to the record of their heinous crimes against Iraq,'' the Iraqi News Agency said.

U.S. and British officials denied the report.

Maj. Scott Vadnais, spokesman for Operation Northern Watch at Incirlik air base in Turkey, said no bombs were dropped.

``We flew today (Wednesday), but we did not .. .drop anything,'' he said.

Maj. Ed Loomis, public affairs officer for U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, said routine flights were also conducted on Tuesday, but that no bombs were dropped then either.

``The Iraqi allegations are absolutely false,'' he said.

In London, Britain's Defense Ministry also rejected the Iraqi claims.

``This is not true. Neither the Americans nor ourselves dropped any ordinance either yesterday or today. This is another attempt by the Iraqi authorities to mislead their public,'' the ministry said.

On Tuesday, the Iraqi news agency had quoted an unidentified Iraqi military spokesman as saying allied forces had tried to bomb a civilian installation in the north but had been scared off by Iraqi air defenses. Iraq had claimed hitting a plane, but U.S. officials denied any planes were hit during a Tuesday mission over northern Iraq.

Allied aircraft patrol the no-fly zones over southern and northern Iraq, which were established after the 1991 Persian Gulf War to protect Shiite Muslim rebels in the south and Kurds in the north. British and American jets enforcing the no-fly zone over northern Iraq are based in Turkey.

Iraq does not recognize the no-fly zones and has challenged allied aircraft since December 1998.
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