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Iraq: Assaults On Military Targets Continue

Baghdad, 18 December 1998 (RFE/RL) - U.S. and British air and sea-launched missiles struck Iraq overnight in a second round of attacks aimed at reducing Iraq's military capabilities. Iraqi Health Minister Umeed Madhat Mubarak says a minimum of 25 people have died and 75 others were wounded in the assaults in and around the capital, Baghdad. Casualty figures for other areas were unavailable. The figures could not be independently confirmed.

U.S. and British officials say their forces have suffered no casualties.

Britain's Defense Secretary George Robertson said today the attacks inflicted substantial damage to Iraqi military targets. He didn't say whether they would continue.

The first assault yesterday of "Operation Desert Fox" included 200 American cruise missiles fired at more than 50 sensitive sites in Iraq.

The United Nations, meanwhile, says it is relocating its humanitarian staff out of Iraq for the duration of the military operation. A spokesman said he hoped the move was temporary. Most of the humanitarian workers have already arrived in neighboring Jordan. The UN pulled its weapons inspectors out of Iraq earlier this week ahead of the military strikes.

Russia has recalled its ambassadors to Britain and the United States to protest the two countries' air attacks against Iraq.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said today that it is recalling Moscow's ambassador to Britain, Yuri Fokin, for consultations. British officials say they haven't been notified of the action.

The U.S. State Department said yesterday that Russian ambassador to Washington Yuli M. Vorontsov would return to Moscow for consultations. State Department spokesman James Rubin said the development was "unfortunate."

Moscow has condemned U.S. and British air strikes against Iraq. Russian president Boris Yeltsin said yesterday the attacks violate the UN's charter.