Iraq vows retaliation

Xxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx at
Mon Feb 19 09:28:05 MST 2001 

Times of Oman, Feb 19, 2001

Iraq vows retaliation

BAGHDAD — Iraq vigorously rejected yesterday Washington’s explanation for
Friday’s US-British air strikes over Baghdad.

"The American explanations are a laughable pretext. Their words are inadmissable
and are condemned by the entire world," Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz
told reporters.

The US and Britain said they had bombed five military targets around Baghdad in
an effort to take out Iraqi radar posts which were used to coordinate
surface-to-air missile attacks against their aircrafts patrolling in southern

Iraq has said three civilians were killed and 30 more injured in the raid.

When asked about the future of Iraq’s dialogue with UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, Aziz said he would wait and see.

Iraqi Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammed Said Al Sahaf demanded on Saturday that
the UN and its Security Council "condemn the American aggression which came at a
moment when Iraq is preparing to embark on a comprehensive dialogue with the UN
secretary-general (Kofi Annan)."

Sahhaf is expected to visit New York on February 26 and 27 to launch talks with
the UN on the terms for international arms inspections in Iraq and the lifting
of sanctions which have been in place since August 1990 when Baghdad invaded

Iraq’s anti-air defence commander, General Shahin Yassin Mohammed, said
yesterday his country was determined to "retaliate against US and British

"We will continue, without respite, to retaliate against enemy planes," Shahin
told Iraqi youth television, a network run by President Saddam Hussein’s elder
son Uday. Shahin also said he expected another US and British "aggression".

"The important thing is to stay vigilant, and to be capable of retaliating", he

"To this date, Iraq has shot down 15 enemy planes," he said alluding to battles
with the US and Britain over the last decade.

He added that "Iraqi (military) planes fly over the so-called no-fly zones every

The no-fly zones over southern and northern Iraq have been enforced by London
and Washington since the end of Baghdad’s occupation of Kuwait in 1991.

According to the Iraqi general, British and US planes "have completed 600,000
flight hours since December 17, 1998, and dropped more than 1,000 tonnes of
bombs" on the two no-fly zones.

Also yesterday, Iraq staged protests against the United States and Britain and
taunted US President George W. Bush yesterday, amid continuing international
condemnation of Friday’s air raids and heightened tension in a region wracked by
nearly five months of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets of Baghdad for a second day, shouting
their anger over the raids near the capital, which officially killed two people
and wounded more than 20.

"Yes to Jihad," or holy war, "No to submission," chanted some 3,000 people in
southern Baghdad’s Al Baya district.

They pledged "total support" to President Saddam Hussein’s determination to
"liberate Palestine."

The demonstrators, some of them officials in the ruling Baath Party, burnt US
and Israeli flags.

Another 5,000 demonstrators carrying red, white and black Iraqi and Palestinian
flags marched through central Baghdad, condemning Bush and his administration.

Thousands were also out in northern Baghdad swearing allegiance to Saddam and
attacking the US-led strikes, which Washington and London said were aimed at
reducing threats to their aircraft patrolling controversial "no fly" zones over

Similar protests orchestrated by the regime took place on Saturday across Iraq
and officials said they would continue today.

In response to the raid, Saddam announced on Saturday he had ordered the
creation of 21 military divisions for his "Jerusalem Liberation Army." But
Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sneh said the Jewish state did not
consider Saddam an immediate danger, although his threats "must be taken
seriously. He has proved in the past that he meant them."

Iraq launched 39 Scud missiles at Israel during the Gulf War and Saddam recently
threatened to bombard it daily for six months to support the Palestinian

Sneh also warned against any growing alliance between Iraq with Syria and Iran,
which both strongly condemned the US raid. — AFP

    --- Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx Ph.D Student Department of Political Science SUNY at
Albany Nelson A. Rockefeller College 135 Western Ave.; Milne 102 Albany, NY

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