Iraq says one person injured in allied strikes on Iraqi radar station

Saturday, August 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ A U.S.-British airstrike on a radar station in southern Iraq on Saturday has wounded one person, the official Iraqi News agency reported.

U.S. and British officials confirmed the attack in Wasit province, 116 miles south of Baghdad. A spokesperson for Britain's Ministry of Defense, however, said it was ``extremely unlikely'' there had been any civilian casualties.

``The U.S. British warplanes targeted our civil and service installations ... resulting in the injury of one civilian,'' an unidentified Iraqi military spokesman told the agency.

Iraqi surface-to-air missiles and ``courageous ground resistance'' returned fire on the planes, forcing them to turn back ``in shame,'' the spokesman said.

The U.S. Central Command released a statement saying that allied aircraft launched the missile attack at 4:30 a.m. EDT ``in response to recent Iraqi hostile threats against coalition aircraft monitoring the southern no-fly zone.''

Damage assessment was ongoing, the U.S. statement said.

``Coalition aircraft never target civilian populations or infrastructure and go to painstaking lengths to avoid injuries to civilians and damage to civilian facilities,'' it added.

Since December 1998, there have been more than 1,010 incidents of Iraqi surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft fire against coalition aircraft.

A British Ministry of Defense official said on condition of anonymity that ``it was an extremely precise military target and there was no collateral damage. All personnel returned safely.''

U.S. and British planes started enforcing a ``no-fly'' zone in southern and northern Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War. Iraq disputes the legitimacy of the zones and regularly contests the U.S and British patrols by firing missiles and artillery guns.