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Iraq: U.S. Forces Continue Antiterrorist Operations Amid Diplomatic Activity

Baghdad, 19 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S.-led forces in Iraq used airpower to attack several locations in the Iraqi capital Baghdad overnight. A U.S. military spokesman said that five areas that had been used to launch attacks on the coalition forces were targeted.

In the Tikrit area, the U.S. forces have attacked suspected Iraqi guerrilla positions for the third night in a row.

The president of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani, arrived in Ankara today for talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyp Erdogan and officials in charge of foreign relations and foreign trade.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yurii Fedotov today criticised the U.S. plan for handing over power to a new transitional government in Iraq next June. Fedotov said the decision was made without the involvement of the international community and the United Nations.

Also today, Iraq's Education Ministry said a provincial ministry official has been shot dead by unknown assailants.

A spokesman for the Education Ministry said Hmud Kadhim, the ministry's director-general in Diwaniyah province, was killed yesterday. The spokesman gave no details about the incident, which he said occurred in Diwaniyah about 160 kilometers south of the capital Baghdad.

There has been no claim of responsibility, but some opponents to the U.S.-led coalition have warned that they will assassinate Iraqis who collaborate with occupation authorities.