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Iraq: U.S. Strikes Civilian Airport

September 26, 2002

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Iraq said an allied airstrike early Thursday hit its civilian airport in the southern port city of Basra. The announcement did not mention casualties.

A Pentagon official confirmed there was a strike early Thursday, but had no other details.

Iraq quickly condemned the strike.

``This terrorist act is a breach of international civilian aviation regulations,″ an announcer on Iraq’s state-owned satellite channel said.

The announcer said the attack targeted the airport’s radar system and that the terminal building also was damaged. No further details were immediately announced.

The United States and Britain have patrolled zones in northern and southern Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War, declaring the areas off limits to Iraqi aircraft to protect Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south. The allies say they do not target civilians, but respond when Iraqi military radar lock onto their fighter planes.

Wednesday, U.S. defense officials announced a double strike at two southeastern installations. Precision-guided weapons were aimed at a radar facility near Al Amarah about 165 miles southeast of Baghdad and a defense communications facility at Tallil, about 170 miles southeast of the capital, according to a statement from the U.S. Central Command in Florida.

The statement did not say how effective the strike was, only that damage assessment was ongoing.

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