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British Warplanes Hit Iraqi Site

September 18, 2001

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) _ British Tornado warplanes bombed a southern Iraqi anti-aircraft missile site Tuesday, retaliating for ``hostile activities″ by Iraq against planes patrolling a no-fly zone, a U.S. Air Force officer said.

The attack targeted a position near Basra, 350 miles south of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, said Maj. Brett Morris, spokesman for the Saudi-based Joint Task Force South West Asia.

``The strikes were in response to Iraq’s hostile activities in the past, part of which we also experienced today,″ said Morris without elaborating.

There was no immediate report on damage.

An unidentified Iraqi military spokesman confirmed the Basra attack, telling the official Iraqi News Agency that ``our courageous ground resistance″ returned fire on the planes, forcing them to turn back ``in shame.″

The agency reported no casualties.

In recent months, Iraq has improved its ability to fire missiles at U.S. and British aircraft patrolling a no-fly zone in southern Iraq.

No-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq were established after the 1991 Gulf War to protect Shiite Muslims and Kurdish minorities.

Last week, Iraq said it downed a second unmanned U.S. spy plane. U.S. authorities confirmed the drone’s disappearance, but were still investigating its fate.

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