Fwd: Allies bomb Iraqi football game, kill 23

john.m. cox hazel_motes52 at hotmail.com
Thu Jun 21 06:27:17 MDT 2001


Subsequent to this article, the U.S. admitted to the bombing, claiming it
was an "errant missile" but making no apology --

____________________________________________________________


ALLIES DENY RAIDS WHICH IRAQ SAYS KILLED 23

By Hassan Hafidh

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq said Wednesday 23 people died and 11 were
wounded when Western warplanes targeted a playing field in a northern
Iraqi town, but Britain and the United States denied any attack.

The Iraqi News Agency INA said U.S. and British warplanes raided
Talafar district near the city of Mosul. It did not say in its report
when the raid took place but, questioned by phone, the agency said it
occurred Tuesday.

``The raids, which targeted a football field, martyred 23 citizens and
wounded 11 others who were playing football,'' it said.

The United States and Britain swiftly denied what would be the
bloodiest reported attack for two and a half years.

``Coalition forces (U.S. and British aircraft) did not conduct any
raids on northern Iraq yesterday,'' Pentagon (news - web sites)
spokesman Bryan Whitman told Reuters.

``We conducted routine enforcement of the no-fly zone. We did not
engage.  All our aircraft returned safely,'' said a spokesman for the
U.S.  European Command, based in Germany. The Ministry of Defense in
London also said no weapons had been dropped.

But the Iraqi agency said thousands of people had mourned the victims
Wednesday at Talafar.

``They hit out at the United States and Britain blaming them for the
incident,'' it said.

In an earlier report Tuesday, also denied by the Western allies, Iraq
said its anti-aircraft defenses had hit one of a group of allied
planes that patrol the northern no-fly zone from their airbase in
southern Turkey.

Western air raids have become a regular occurrence since Baghdad
decided in December 1998 to challenge jets patrolling the northern and
southern no-fly zones that were set up by Western powers after the
1991 Gulf War (news - web sites).

Tuesday's is the highest single-day death toll reported by Iraq since
that challenge prompted the United States and Britain to conduct a
four-day ``Desert Fox'' campaign at targets across Iraq at the end of
1998.

If confirmed, it would bring the reported toll from frequent bombings
since then to over 300 dead and 1,000 wounded.

In the previous deadliest toll since Desert Fox, Iraq says 19 civilians
were killed in widespread raids on August 17, 1999.

The two no-fly zones were set up after the expulsion of Iraqi troops from
Kuwait in 1991 to protect Kurdish dissidents in northern Iraq and
anti-Baghdad Shi'ite Muslims in the south from attack by President Saddam
Hussein (news - web sites)'s army.

Iraq does not recognize the zones and allied forces say that since the
end of 1998, they have been regularly threatened by Iraqi anti-aircraft
units and have fired bombs and missiles back at them.

U.S. and British forces have also staged large-scale raids on wider
targets in Iraq, at times incurring the wrath of their own Western
partners.

Earlier Stories
U.S. Military Denies Attack on Northern Iraq (June 20)
Iraq Says One Wounded in U.S., British Air Attacks (June 14)





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