Washington/Baghdad, 5 January 1999 (RFE/RL) - U.S. military officials say U.S. Navy jets patrolling the southern no-fly zone over Iraq today fired air-to-air missiles at Iraqi planes that challenged them. The U.S. planes were from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, and all returned safely. There was no immediate word of whether the Iraqi jets were hit by the U.S. missiles.
The incident is the latest challenge by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq. The no-fly zones were imposed by the U.S., Britain and France after the Gulf War to stop Iraq from using its air force against Kurds in northern Iraq and Shiite Muslims in the south.
Also today, the Iraqi Information Ministry said Iraq will continue to resist incursions by British and U.S. planes into the no-fly zones.
The official Iraqi News Agency quoted the ministry as saying Iraq
considers the zones to be illegal and imposed without U.N. authorization.