U.S. Drops Leaflet Warning on Iraqi Site
Nov 28, 1:01 pm ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Western planes dropped leaflets on a previously attacked communications site in southern Iraq Thursday, warning Iraqis to stop repairing the facility, the U.S. military said.
The drop, at about 4 a.m. EST, combined three different leaflets, two of which urged the Iraqi military not to repair the facility that is used for tracking and engaging Western planes.
A third leaflet said Western aircraft were enforcing the no-fly zone for the protection of the Iraqi people and cautioned that threatening the planes could draw another air strike.
The unmanned communication facilities between Al Kut and Al Basrah, in the southern no-fly zone, were attacked on Nov. 22. U.S. officials have repeatedly warned that continued firing by Iraqi defenses at U.S. and British jets patrolling the no-fly zones was a direct violation of the Nov. 8 U.N. resolution on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
The White House has stopped short of saying that firing at the planes would be a trigger for launching a war against Iraq or that Washington has any plans to lodge a formal complaint with the Security Council.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and most of the international community disagree that Iraqi attacks on U.S. and British planes in the no-fly zone constitute a "material breach" of the U.N. resolution that sent weapons inspectors back into Iraq this week.
Since Nov. 8, Iraqi air defenses have fired on Western planes on at least 11 days in the south and twice in the north, according to a Pentagon count.
The zones, created by Western allies after the 1991 Gulf War, are not recognized by Baghdad.