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Iraq: UN Inspectors Start Using Helicopters

Baghdad, 7 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- A Iraqi official says UN inspectors hunting for Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction started using helicopters today. The inspectors' spokesman, Hiro Ueki, said the inspectors have six such aircraft. He said they will use them both to travel across the country and to carry out aerial inspections.

The flights were put off last week for "technical reasons," according to both Ueki and Iraqi authorities, who did not specify what these reasons were.

Yesterday, Mohammad el-Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said his inspectors in Iraq have found nothing "suspicious" so far. But he says it is still too early to draw any conclusions. Iraq has repeatedly denied that it has any weapons of mass destruction.

In other news, the U.S. military says warplanes from the U.S.-British coalition have carried out another strike against Iraqi targets in the southern "no-fly" zone.

The U.S. Central Command said the bombing raid yesterday targeted two Iraqi mobile radars near Al-Amarah, southeast of Baghdad. The statement said the strike came after Iraqi forces moved the radars into the southern no-fly zone.

The raid was the fourth U.S.-British strike gainst Iraqi targets reported by the U.S. military since 1 January.