Iran Claims 22 Civilians Killed In Iraqi Air Raid
Dec. 16, 1986
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Iraq said its warplanes bombed a cement factory near the central Iranian city of Arak on Tuesday, and Iran claimed 22 civilians were killed and 48 wounded in the raid.
Baghdad's official Iraqi News Agency said all the planes returned to base from the raid on the ''industrial target.'' Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency said four residential and industrial areas were hit in the attack and most of the casualties were women and children.
Both the Iraqi and Iranian battlefield statements were monitored in Nicosia.
The Iraqi air raid came three days after its planes bombed Tehran in the first major attack on the Iranian capital in seven months.
That marked an escalation in a five-month-old Iraqi air blitz aimed at wrecking Iran's industrial centers and choking off its vital oil exports.
In other action in the 6-year-old war, both sides reported heavy artillery duels along the 730-mile battlefront.
Iraq claimed gunners of its 3rd Army Corps pounded Iranian positions near the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
The Iranian news agency said Iranian artillery knocked out an Iraqi armored column in the southern sector and drove off marauding Iraqi gunboats near Khorramshahr.
It also quoted the military as saying Iranian artillery ''inflicted heavy casualties'' on Iraqi troop concentrations in the northern sector.
In another development, Iran's navy announced it had ended three days of maneuvers in the Persian Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the southern tip of the gulf. But it also said it will strengthen coastal patrols along its southern coastline.
It hs become a standard procedure in the war for Iraqi warplanes to attack oil tankers around Kharg Island, Iran's major oil exporting facilitiy in the northern gulf, and for Iran to retaliate by attacking neutral ships in the southern gulf and also stop and search others to determine if they were carrying war supplies to Iraq.
Iran said scores of Iranian warships, helicopters and fighter planes took part in the exercises that ended Tuesday.
The maneuvers were codenamed ''Zolfeqar'' after a double-edged sword, and the name and timing of the exercises indicated they were in response to similar maneurver conducted last month by Omani and British forces in Oman.
That British-Omani exercise was codenamed ''Swift Sword'' and was designed to test Britain's rapid deplyoment capability in the Persian Gulf in the event of a major crisis.
The Iranian news agency quoted officials at the naval base at Bandar Abbas, which dominates the narrow Strait of Hormuz, as saying the navy will deploy ''advanced gunboats'' and high-speed patrol craft to improve surveillance of Iran's southern coastline.
It said the patrols would fight ''against smugglers of luxury goods and narcotics as well as to prevent illegal traffic ... and subversive operations.''