Iraq 'not seeking conflict with US'

THE IRAQI ambassador to the United Nations, Nizar Hamdoon, denied in New York last night that his government was deliberately seeking a new military confrontation with the United States over flying rights in the southern tier of his country.

Following the shooting down of an Iraqi MiG over the no-fly zone beneath the 32nd parallel in Iraq on Sunday, Mr Hamdoon refuted US claims that the pilot had sought to defy US instructions that he leave the area and therefore provoke the clash. He added that Baghdad had decided against lodging an official complaint over the incident at the UN.

'I don't think Iraq is pushing for an escalation. There is no reason for Iraq to do this,' he said. 'No wise person would seek military confrotation, especially in view of the overwhelming military superiority of the US.'

American fighters had intercepted and chased away Iraqi warplanes which ventured into the no-fly zone over southern Iraq for on Mondaya second consecutive day, a United States military spokesman said yesterday.

This followed the downing of the Iraqi MiG by a US F-16 on Sunday and coincided with Iraq's formal rejection of the UN-imposed air exclusion zone.

Colonel Ron Sconyers, spokesman for US forces regional command in Riyadh, said Iraqi warplanes on Monday flew up to 20 miles south of the 32nd parallel which marks the limit of the zone. The aircraft immediately withdrew after being intercepted by American warplanes and 'there was no firing', he said.

Col Sconyers said the US, French and British forces policing the no-fly zone had been on heightened alert since Sunday's clash, but the number of patrols had not been stepped up. Allied warplanes flew more than 100 sorties a day when the zone was first imposed on 27 August to protect the Shia population from President Saddam Hussein's forces, but that has fallen to less than 30.

The Iraqi action prompted the Pentagon to order the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk back to the Gulf. It had been dispatched to the Somali coast to help in relief operations, leaving the US without a carrier in the Gulf for the first time since last year's war.

Baghdad has repeatedly denounced the zone as a plot to partition the country but had apparently given it de facto recognition by not sending its warplanes into it. However, the Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, on Monday announced Iraq's formal rejection of the zone, saying: 'Iraq does not recognise the ban imposed against its aviation and considers this an attack against its sovereignty.'

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Retail Store Sales Executive

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Sales Executive ...

Recruitment Genius: Night Porters - Seasonal Placement

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Night Porters are required to join a family-ow...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executives - B2B

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Genius Ltd continue...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executives - B2B

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Genius Ltd continue...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn