Iranian Missile Strikes Baghdad, Kills Civilians
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ An Iranian missile crashed today in the Iraqi capital, killing and wounding civilians. Iran said the attack was intended to avenge the deaths of 68 schoolchildren and other civilians in ″barbarous″ Iraqi air raids.
State-run Baghdad Radio said the missile crashed in a residential sector of the city, destroying several houses and shops. It said civilians were killed and wounded but gave no number.
Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency, monitored in Nicosia, Cyprus, said the Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran’s most fanatical shock troops, fired the long-range missile into Baghdad ″in retaliation for the barbarous attacks by the Iraqi regime on Iranian residential areas.″
A statement by the Revolutionary Guards broadcast by IRNA said, ″The Iraqi criminals would receive more fatal blows if their acts of mischief continue.″
Iraq said Monday its warplanes flew 225 sorties Monday against more than a dozen Iranian cities. It said the targets were military, economic and industrial facilities, but Iran said the bombs hit residential areas and killed or wounded scores of civilians.
An Iraqi raid Sunday hit schools in the northwestern city of Mianeh and killed 68 schoolchildren and wounded 150 others, Iran claimed Monday.
Today’s Iranian attack on Baghdad was the 26th missile fired at the city since March 1985, when the Iranians began such attacks on the Iraqi capital. A missile hit an industrial area in Baghdad on Saturday.
Baghdad residents said they were jolted out of their beds at 6:10 a.m. by a loud explosion. Moments later, ambulances could be heard racing across the capital as black smoke clouded parts of the city, they said.
The attack came one day after Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Velayati cabled the International Red Cross in Geneva and the Organization of Islamic Conference in Jidda, Saudi Arabia, to appeal for intervention to stop ″Iraqi crimes″ against Iranian civilians, according to an IRNA report.
The Iranian news agency said an Iraqi pilot whose plane was hit in a dogfight Monday at Arak in central Iran bailed out and was captured by angry civilians who ″executed him in a revolutionary manner.″
It did not say how the pilot was killed or what kind of plane he was flying.
IRNA said Iranian anti-aircraft gunners shot down a French-built Iraqi Mirage fighter near the Iraqi city of Al-Amara on the strategic Basra-Baghdad highway, and the pilot, identified as Capt. Zohair Mohammed Saeed, was captured.
Iraqi communiques Monday said a U.S.-built Iranian F-5 jet was shot down at Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan north of Baghdad and another was downed in the south.
Iran and Iraq have been at war since September 1980. They increased air strikes on each other’s cities in the past week after the stalemate of an Iranian drive toward Basra that began Jan. 9.
Early in the offensive, Iran captured portions of marshland inside Iraq and heavily shelled Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city with 1 million people.
But Iraq claimed over the weekend that it retook 15 square miles of Iraqi territory in the area.
A field commander near Basra said his forces were in full control and had ″pooled efforts to destroy the Iranian units along the battlefront,″ the Iraqi news agency reported Monday.
The two sides claims rarely can be confirmed independently because both nations generally bar foreign jouralists from the war front.