Second missile strike wraps up US mission

POLICING SADDAM

After its initial sea- and air-launched cruise attack on Tuesday, the United States followed up at dawn yesterday with a second instalment of 17 missiles, delivered from warships and a submarine in the Persian Gulf, in what the Pentagon described as "mopping up" against four of the 14 original targets - all command and control air defence facilities to the south of the Iraqi capital - which may not have been destroyed by the first wave of 27 cruises.

The operation was "successfully completed," the Defense Secretary, William Perry, said as he held long-scheduled talks with his British opposite number, Michael Portillo, representative of the one Western government which has been unequivocal in its support for the air strikes.

Half the Iraqi MiGs stationed south of the 33rd parallel - the new northern boundary of the no-fly zone, south of Baghdad - had already been moved north of that line, he said, while US intelligence had also detected a "general pull back" of Iraqi forces in the Kurdish-populated north, whose incursion had led to this week's American retaliation. But, Mr Perry warned, more than 40,000 men were still in the region, "in a very dangerous position".

France withheld support from President Bill Clinton'sraids and indicated it had not agreed in advance to his extension of the no-fly zone from the 32nd parallel. The US, Britain and France have policed the zone since a US-led coalition drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait in 1991.

Pentagon officials said earlier yesterday that French Mirage jets took part in the first day of patrols of the expanded zone. But Paris said that the Mirages stayed below the 32nd parallel.

Nevertheless, Mr Perry said he expected France to continue to participate in the allied coalition against Iraq. Asked if the alliance was weakening, Mr Perry said: "I am confident the coalition is not weakening. If anything I think the coalition is strengthening and I fully expect the French to continue participation."

The Russian response has been cooler yet. The Foreign Minister, Yevgeny Primakov, meeting Klaus Kinkel, his German counterpart, in Bonn yesterday, rejected the German view that the US action in Iraq was an appropriate response to Saddam Hussein's incursion into Kurdistan. Criticising the US sharply for the third time in two days, he said: "It's a very dangerous situation, a precedent for the future. If ... we have a superpower, be it the United States, Europe or Russia, acting on its own initiative to use violence in a region without consulting an international organisation, in this case the UN Security Council, there will be conflict."

Egyptian diplomats at the UN yesterday were reluctant to back an Anglo- American attempt to draft a Security Council resolution that would condemn Iraq's offensive against the Kurds and also call for Iran to stop its involvement in northern Iraq; the Egyptians questioned why there was no mention in the draft of the US attack.

Only Kuwait openly supported the US. Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, wealthiest arms customer, dominant military power in the Arabian peninsula, launch pad for the coalition against Iraq in 1991 and the main base for US forces in the Gulf, maintained an official silence.

A Western diplomat in Riyadh said: "[The Saudis] may well not want to respond if they can get away without making an official statement."

Despite other reactions, including downright hostility from some moderate Arab governments, Mr Clinton is currently basking in the usual initial public support for a president who uses American military power to handle an international crisis.

According to an ABC television poll yesterday, four out of five Americans approve of the attack, even though they are sceptical it will achieve much in the long run. Three quarters of them believe President Saddam will continue to violate the terms of the Gulf war ceasefire.

The White House also senses that for all the public disapproval, many critics may be secretly delighted at moves whose main effect is to make life safer for the vulnerable oil states of the Gulf.

But Britain is one of the few to say so in public. "We share the American analysis," Mr Portillo said, citing the threat to regional stability posed by President Saddam and his "proven propensity to invade the territory of his neighbours". If this provocation had gone unanswered, the Iraqi dictator would merely be emboldened to go further. Mr Portillo also endorsed yesterday's fresh strikes. Since Britain participated in enforcing the no-fly zone, a threat to its own planes had been eliminated.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
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: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all