Allied planes fire on Iraqi bases

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AMERICAN WARPLANES enforcing the "no-fly" zones in southern and northern Iraq fired on Iraqi defence installations yesterday for the second successive day.

In southern Iraq, six US and two British planes fired on two military sites at Talil and a radio relay facility at Al Amarah in response to what US officials called "Iraqi provocations". US officials said the sites were targeted because of their role in aircraft command and control.

In the north, a US Air Force F-16CJ Fighting Falcon fired at a radar system north of the city of Mosul, according to a statement from the US airbase at Incirlik in southern Turkey. The statement said the Iraqi radar system posed a threat to coalition forces patrolling the "no-fly" zone above the 36th parallel.

On Saturday, US fighters attacked Iraqi defence sites in six confrontations around Mosul in the single largest number of attacks in one day since Iraq began to challenge the jets in the "no-fly" zone last month.

Baghdad yesterday rejected as "procrastination" the UN Security Council's decision to create study panels on Iraq's disarmament and humanitarian needs and the fate of missing Kuwaitis. Iraq, which wanted the Security Council to condemn the air raids, said the panels would take "several months" to complete their work, "which means nothing but procrastination and maintaining the unjust blockade on Iraq".

The study panels were set up as a first step towards breaking the diplomatic logjam over continuing sanctions against Iraq.