Iraq fires missiles at RAF Tornado

IRAQ FIRED missiles at a British aircraft yesterday, emphasising that it wants to step up confrontation with London and Washington after Operation Desert Fox.

The attack happened when RAF Tornados based in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia were patrolling the "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq imposed after the Gulf War.

Iraq says both the southern and northern no-fly zones are illegitimate and that it will shoot down aircraft enforcing them.

United States and British aircraft were patrolling the southern zone at about 8.30am local time yesterday when an Iraqi battery fired between six and eight missiles from a site south-west of Talil, in southern Iraq. Two US F-16 bombers responded and fired two anti-radar missiles and a number of precision-guided bombs on to the site. All the allied aircraft involved in the incident returned safely to their bases in the Gulf.

Iraq, however, said it had almost certainly shot down a US or British plane over the no-fly zone. "Our brave air defences have fired ground- to-air missiles against the formation of hostile planes, forcing them to flee after one of the planes was almost certainly shot down," a military spokesman said.

The Secretary of State for Defence, George Robertson, said the allies would not be "intimidated" from policing the no-fly zones by the Iraqi leader, President Saddam Hussein. "They [the no-fly zones] are humanitarian in purpose and we intend to maintain them," he told BBC Radio 4. "What we are seeing now is a show of defiance, arrogance and essentially of weakness on behalf of Saddam."

The incident was the second this week involving missiles, and follows the attack on US aircraft on Monday in the northern no-fly zone, near Mosul.

The US and Britain hit hard at Iraq's air defences during Operation Desert Fox, a 70-hour air campaign earlier this month. But they admitted at the time that Iraq's surface-to-air missiles were highly mobile and many were missed.

Despite the threat to its aircraft, the US also said the patrols would continue. "This is a key element of our containment policy to prevent Saddam Hussein from using his aircraft to threaten his own people and his neighbours," said a spokesman for the National Security Council. "We will continue to vigorously enforce it and our aircraft will take the necessary precautions to carry out their mission and defend themselves."

Soon after news broke of the clash, President Bill Clinton spoke about Iraq to the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin. Russia has been critical of US policy towards Baghdad although both agreed that despite their differences "it's important to continue to build the US-Russian relationship", the White House said.

But in a sign that the clashes are worrying Iraq's neighbours and America's allies, Turkey said it wanted the issue to be handled delicately. "This is a sensitive situation for Turkey," said the Defence Minister, Ismet Sezgin. The allied air forces depend on bases in Turkey, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Systems and Network Support Analyst

£26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...

Recruitment Genius: IT Systems Support Analyst

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a rapidly expandi...

Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker / Trainee Broker / Closer - OTE £250,000

£30000 - £250000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Stock Broker/ Trainee FX, Stoc...

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests