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U.S. Planes Attack Iraq Radar Sites

February 16, 2001

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Ordering his first military strike, President Bush sent U.S. warplanes Friday to bomb five Iraqi military sites around Baghdad that the Pentagon said had posed an increasing danger to American and British patrol aircraft.

``A routine mission was conducted to enforce the ‘no fly’ zone″ over southern Iraq, Bush said at a news conference in Mexico with President Vicente Fox. ``It was a mission about which I was informed and I authorized. But I repeat, it’s a routine mission.″

At the Pentagon, a U.S. general called the strike a ``self defense measure″ initiated by the commander of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf.

Asked whether the attack was an indication to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that the Bush administration would take more frequent and more forceful military action, Bush said, ``Saddam Hussein has got to understand that we expect him to conform to the agreement that he signed″ after the 1991 Gulf War.

``We will enforce the ‘no fly’ zone, both south and north. Our intention is to make sure the world is as peaceful as possible,″ Bush said.

Fox said he had no comment on the U.S.-British attack.

In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office said the raids had been authorized by Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon earlier this week following discussions with the United States.

``This is a targeted and measured response to the dramatic increase in attacks on coalition aircraft in January,″ a British spokesman said with customary anonymity.

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