U.S. and British warplanes bomb anti-aircraft base in southern Iraq

Thursday, January 24th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) _ U.S. and British warplanes bombed an anti-aircraft base in southern Iraq on Thursday after coming under Iraqi artillery fire, a U.S. official said.

The attack happened at 3:45 p.m. on Al Faw Peninsula, 290 miles southeast of Baghdad, said Maj. Brett Morris, spokesman for the Joint Task Force Southwest Asia. He said all aircraft returned safely to base and a damage assessment was under way.

Later Thursday, the official Iraqi News Agency quoted an unidentified Iraqi military spokesman as saying U.S. and British planes had attacked Iraqi ``civil and service installations'' in recent days.

Thursday's strikes marked the third time this year that coalition warplanes have returned fire on Iraqi forces and the second consecutive day that aircraft have come under Iraqi attack.

On Wednesday, coalition warplanes returned fire against an Iraqi military site near Tallil, 170 miles southeast of Baghdad.

U.S. and British planes have been patrolling the skies over northern and southern Iraq since after the 1991 Gulf War. The patrols were set up to protect Kurds and Shiite Muslims from Iraqi forces. Baghdad says they violate international law and has been challenging allied planes since December 1998.