Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S. Jets Strike Site in Northern Iraq Iraqi Missile Battery Fired First

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

U.S. Jets Strike Site in Northern Iraq Iraqi Missile Battery Fired First

Article excerpt

Air Force warplanes threw a one-two punch Thursday at an Iraqi surface-to-air missile battery. They struck first with two F-16 Falcons and followed up, an hour later, with two F-15 Eagles, U.S. officials said.

Marine Lt. Col. Charles Boyd said at the Pentagon that the missile site appeared to have been destroyed.

Kathleen deLaski, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said Iraq had provoked the air strikes by firing two missiles at two U.S. planes near the city of Mosul. She said the Iraqi missiles had not hit the U.S. planes. The planes were patrolling a U.N.-imposed "no fly zone" over northern Iraq.

The no-fly zones were decreed by the West after the 1991 Persian Gulf War to protect Kurdish rebels in the north and Shiite Muslim dissidents in the south.

DeLaski gave this account:

An F-4G Wild Weasel electronic warfare plane working with a Falcon saw two Iraqi surface-to-air missiles being launched at the two Air Force planes from an Iraqi air defense site near Mosul. The planes avoided the missiles.

The Falcon then dropped a cluster bomb on the site. About eight minutes later, another Falcon and Wild Weasel flew over the site, and the Falcon dropped a second cluster bomb.

One Pentagon official said, "We still had indications that we had not neutralized the threat."

So, about an hour later, two F-15 Eagles were called into the area and launched four laser-guided bombs at the target. The Pentagon said it could not immediately determine whether the Eagles - based at Incirlik, Turkey - had been launched specifically to strike the air defense site or whether they already had been flying patrols in Iraq.

DeLaski said no further action against Iraqi forces was planned because the air defense site had been "effectively neutralized."

Asked why the two Eagles had been called in after the Falcons had already bombed the site, the spokeswoman said, "The feeling was, there was still a threat. …

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