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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

March 19, 2003
Release Number: 03-03-29



SOUTHWEST ASIA -- In response to Iraqi hostile actions against Coalition aircraft monitoring compliance of United Nations Security Council Resolutions, Operation SOUTHERN WATCH Coalition aircraft used precision-guided weapons today to target several Iraqi military targets in southern and western Iraq.

Target battle damage assessment is ongoing.

The Coalition executed today's strikes after Iraqi forces fired anti-aircraft artillery at Coalition aircraft patrolling the Southern No-Fly Zone south of the 33rd Parallel in Iraq. So far this year, Iraqi air defense troops have fired either surface-to-air missiles or anti-aircraft artillery more than 170 times.

Targets and locations were: communication sites near Ash Shuaybah, Mudaysis and Ruwayshid; long-range artillery near Az Zubayr; a mobile early-warning radar and an air defense command center at an Iraqi air base in western Iraq; long-range artillery on the Al Faw peninsula; a surface-to-surface missile system near Al Basrah; and an air traffic control radar near Al Basrah.

The Coalition struck the communications sites and the early-warning radar because they enhanced Iraq's integrated air-defense system. The artillery was struck because they were a danger to Coalition ground troops in Kuwait. The air traffic control radar was used to direct Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery fire at Coalition aircraft.

The Coalition established the Southern No-Fly zone to ensure the safety of coalition aircraft monitoring Iraqi compliance with UN Resolution 688, which forbids the repression of the Iraqi people. The no-fly zone not only protects Coalition aircrews, but also the people of southern Iraq.

Coalition aircraft never target civilian populations or infrastructure and go to painstaking lengths to avoid injury to civilians and damage to civilian facilities.

Earlier today, Coalition aircraft dropped capitulation leaflets over suspected Iraqi troop locations. The leaflets gave detailed instructions about how Iraqi troops could avoid being harmed by Coalition forces in the event of military action. Although the Coalition has dropped millions of leaflets over the last few months, today was the first time that capitulation instructions were provided to Iraqi troops. The leaflets were dropped in an attempt to minimize Iraqi casualties if a military conflict occurs.

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