US fighters fire on Iraqi radar site

(First Edition)

WASHINGTON - An American warplane yesterday fired at an Iraqi air defence site that turned its radar on, but the missiles apparently missed their target, a US Defense Department official said. It was the second incident in as many days despite an Iraqi ceasefire declaration.

An F-4G fighter launched two Harm missiles in the northern no-fly zone near Mosul after it and another fighter were 'locked on' by an Iraqi SA-3 anti-missile radar, the official said. 'First indications are that the missiles apparently missed the target. We don't know why that happened,' he said.

The source said the Harm missile is supposed to follow the radar signal into the target. The official said one possible reason for the miss was that the radar signal coming from the Iraqi installation was not strong enough.

The Defense Department said Iraq provoked a similar aerial attack on Thursday, but officials say they are not sure whether the incidents in the northern air-exclusion zone meant Iraq was resuming a pattern of hostility.

US military officials said two Air Force jets were 'illuminated', or targeted, by Iraqi radar on Thursday just inside the no-fly zone. One jet fired a missile at the radar and the other dropped bombs on it - a tit-for-tat response that had became a daily occurrence before Iraq declared a ceasefire on Tuesday.

President Bill Clinton said he would continue to insist that Iraq abide by the United Nations resolutions that dictated the terms of the end of the Gulf war. 'We're going to adhere to our policy,' Mr Clinton said. In Baghdad, the Iraqi government insisted the ceasefire remained in effect and denied the Defense Department's version of Thursday's events. It said in a statement attributed to an unidentified spokesman that no radar had been turned on and that the US bombs set alight a fertiliser storage area and damaged crops.

'Iraq still abides by its declared ceasefire despite the behavior of the US plane, which was aggressive and provocative,' the statement said.

Iraq's Foreign Minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, quoted by Baghdad radio, told heads of Arab and other diplomatic missions in Baghdad: 'Iraq is committed to the text and spirit of the (ceasefire) statement by the (ruling) Revolution Command Council.

At the Defense Department, on Les Aspin's first full day as Defense Secretary, a spokesman dismissed the Iraqi claim that its radar had not provoked the US bombing. 'We stand behind our report,' said Lieutenant-Commander Joseph Gradisher.

Col Dave Burpee, head of the Pentagon's directorate for defense information, said US patrol planes were continuing to fly surveillance missions over the northern and southern zones that are off-limits to Iraqi aircraft. He said it was too early to know whether Saddam Hussein was again actively challenging the no-fly zones, which his government considers to be illegal.

'We're going to judge him by his deeds and not his words,' Col Burpee said. 'We'll let the record speak for itself.'

Another US defence official said no Iraqi planes flew in either of the two no-fly zones on Thursday and that US and allied pilots patrolling the southern zone had encountered no Iraqi radar or artillery fire.

At the State Department, the newly installed Secretary Warren Christopher said US pilots patrolling the no-fly zones would continue to defend themselves against Iraqi air defence systems.

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: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future