US cuts 'no-fly zone' patrols

MANAMA (AFP) - US warplanes have reduced the number of flights they make over southern Iraq from 120 a day two weeks ago to about 40, a spokesman said yesterday. Without giving daily figures, US Air Force Colonel Ron Sconyers in Saudi Arabia said: 'It's not consistent. Sometimes it's 40 and sometimes slightly more. But there's a general trend downwards.'

The operation has been scaled back because Iraq has observed the ban south of the 32nd parallel. However on Thursday the Pentagon reported that two US F-16 jets intercepted an Iraqi Mirage F-1 over the 'no-fly zone' above the 36th parallel in northern Iraq. It was the first reported Iraqi incursion there since April.

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