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Allies Plan To Enter Dohuk, But Say Zone Not Being Extended

May 22, 1991

ZAKHO, Iraq (AP) _ The commander of allied forces in northern Iraq said today that Iraqi troops will withdraw from Dohuk by Friday and allied forces will enter the city to restore services for returning Kurdish refugees.

But the allies did not want to appear to be extending their ″security zone″ in northern Iraq to include the provincial capital, which was home to hundreds of thousands of Kurdish refugees.

″We’re not occupying the city,″ said U.S. Army Maj. Ron Gahagan, a military spokesman. However, coalition forces will be the only troops in the city starting Friday.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John Shalikashvili met today with Iraqi Lt. Gen. Abu Firas Saber. Afterward, Shalikashvili said the allied forces planned to move into Dohuk after ″all Iraqi military and security police will be gone,″ Gahagan said in the Turkish border town of Silopi.

Gahagan said the small allied force will include medics, engineers and security personnel. The size of the force was not specified. Gahagan said the team’s primary task would be to encourage the Kurds’ return and ″restore some services and fix up the place so the folks can move back.″

It was not clear whether Iraqi troops and security police would return to the city once allied forces left. Gahagan said that was not on the transcript of the meeting between Shalikashvili and Saber.

Ten United Nations security guards have been patrolling the city since the weekend and most Iraqi troops withdrew from positions around Dohuk on Saturday. But scores of security police remained in the city, and many Kurds said they would not be happy with less than an allied occupation of the city.

The Iraqi government has tried to show in recent days that it is capable of providing food and basic services to the city. A correspondent for the official Iraqi News Agency reported Tuesday that he witnessed convoys of Kurdish families pouring into the roads leading to the province.

INA said the government was providing returning families with food supplies and repairing damage to the city inflicted by an unidentified ″aggression machine.″ Residents of Dohuk say it was attacked and plundered by Iraqi troops.

Most of the city’s mainly Kurdish occupants fled in late March after Iraqi forces crushed the Kurds’ rebellion that erupted after the Gulf War.

In another development, more than 300 Kurds attacked an Iraqi general who works with the allied refugee relief operation, smashing windows in his car and injuring him slightly, U.S. military officials said.

U.S. military police fired four warning shots in the air Tuesday night to force the crowd back as it closed in on Iraqi Brig. Gen. Nushwan Danoun outside the police station in Zhako, which is near the Turkish border.

The warning shots were the first fired by the U.S. military in connection with Operation Provide Comfort, which was mounted last month to save hundreds of thousands of Kurds who took refuge in miserable mountain camps on the Turkish and Iranian borders.

Nushwan acts as liaison between Saddam Hussein’s government and the allied forces conducting the relief operation.

U.S. Army officials said the crowd apparently attacked him because they believed a man with him was an Iraqi secret policeman. They said the man turned out to be a reporter from Baghdad.

The attack was the second violent display of Kurdish anger at Iraqi officials under allied protection in nine days.

On May 13, about 3,000 Kurds attacked the Zhako police station and damaged five police cars after a nearby tent settlement was turned over to U.N. control. They were prevented by U.S. Marines from storming the building in which 50 Iraqi policemen were holed up.

At the time, a U.S. military policeman also saved a Kurd with a camera from being lynched by the crowd who thought he was an Iraqi agent.

In other developments today:

-Iran claimed the U.S. Navy attacked an Iranian patrol boat in the Persian Gulf, injuring a sailor and damaging the vessel. The report, carried by Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency, came a day after U.S. officials said two unidentified boats fired on the USS LaSalle, the command ship of U.S. naval forces in the gulf.

-At least 200 Iraqis, permitted to leave their country for the first time in almost a year, have visited the Polish Embassy in Baghdad seeking visas to the United States, the Polish ambassador said. Poland agreed on May 14 to represent U.S. interests in Iraq.

Update hourly