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Iraq Oil Fire Smoke - March 2003

Prior to the current military campaign, the U.S. Defense Department said it had reliable reports that Saddam Hussein's regime possessed the "capability and intent" to damage or destroy Iraqi oil fields. In an 06 March 2003 press release, the Defense Department outlined its strategy to address this contingency. US plans were first to prevent the destruction of Iraq's oil fields and second, if unable to prevent the destruction, to control and mitigate the damage quickly. US and British efforts to secure Iraq's oil fields were intended to prevent the type of eco-terrorism Saddam Hussein's regime carried out during the 1991 Gulf War.

Following earlier reports that as many as 30 oil wells had been set on fire by Iraqi troops, Britain's Chief of Defense Staff Admiral Sir Michael Boyce indicated 21 March 2003 that the number of oil wells ablaze was lower.

The oil well fires in Iraq have produced smoke plumes large enough to be visible to orbiting satellites operated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and OrbImage.

Iraq Oil Fire Smoke
Click on the small image to view a larger version
The following are two images of Iraq taken from ORBIMAGE's OrbView-2 "SeaWiFS" satellite at 1km resolution from Thursday, March 20th and Friday, March 21st. The March 21st image clearly shows thick black smoke from burning oil well fires near Basra in Southern Iraq. ORBIMAGE encourages media organizations to use this imagery. Credit for use of the imagery should read "Courtesy of ORBIMAGE" or similar.

March 20, 2003

March 21, 2003



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