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   Vol.65/No.33            August 27, 2001 
U.S., British planes bomb Iraq in stepped-up attack
In the biggest military attack against Iraq in six months, 50 U.S. and British warplanes unleashed a bombing assault in southern Iraq on August 10. The Pentagon said it had bombed three Iraqi air defense sites, including a "communications node" southeast of Baghdad, which is part of a fiber-optic network. The attacks were carried out at midday.

According to the Iraqi News Agency, the bombings killed one person and wounded 11. An Iraqi spokesperson condemned the attack as "a cowardly operation targeting civil and service operations."

Three days earlier the Pentagon had dropped bombs in the northern part of the country. On August 14, U.S. Air Force F-16 jets based in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait again bombarded targets in southern Iraq.

After the 199091 U.S.-led Gulf War, in which Washington slaughtered at least 150,000 Iraqis, the U.S. government imposed "no-fly zones" in northern Iraq in mid-1991 and in the south in August 1992, covering the majority of the nation's territory and violating its national sovereignty.

Since then the U.S. rulers have conducted a steady and at times massive bombardment of areas in these zones, from the end of the elder Bush's presidency, through the eight years of the Clinton administration, and up to the present day. One aspect of these attacks has been to allow the Pentagon to test and refine its satellite-based global positioning system, used to guide missiles to their targets.

The August 10 attack involved 10 Navy F-14 and F/A-18 warplanes from the USS Enterprise stationed in the Persian Gulf, as well as four Air Force F-16s and four Royal Air Force Tornadoes. They dropped laser-guided bombs on their targets.

Since the beginning of this year U.S. and British warplanes have conducted 29 days of air strikes against Iraq. Over the past two years, such attacks have killed an average of one Iraqi civilian about every other day.

These air strikes have become a permanent feature of Washington's ongoing military intervention in the Mideast. The U.S. big-business media ignores most of them or treats them as routine, seeking to numb public opinion to the brutality involved.

Periodically, the U.S. forces have unleashed a more intense attack. "We do so many of these, every so often, and then we do a Desert Fox," observed one of the pilots to a Washington Post reporter, referring to the four days of massive bombardment of Iraq in 1998.

The latest raid "came as the Bush administration began formulating a longer-term strategy against Mr. Hussein that is likely to include stronger air strikes and reinforced support for Iraqi opposition groups that favor dislodging him from power," stated an August 11 New York Times article, referring to Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

In July Washington proposed a plan to the UN Security Council that would have provided some limited trade openings with Iraq, while further tightening the financial and military restrictions imposed on that country through UN sanctions, kept in force by Washington since 1990. However, this proposal had to be put on hold when the Russian government refused to back it.

Over the past several years, figures now prominent in the Bush administration have been advocating that the U.S. government pursue a more aggressive policy in aiding those seeking to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Ten senior administration members, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Zalmay Khalilzad, recently appointed as the official in charge of Iraqi policy at the National Security Council, signed a 1998 letter to then-president William Clinton calling for implementation of "a strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power." The letter, which was sponsored by the group Project for the New American Century, stated that although such an approach would involve "dangers and difficulties, we believe the dangers of failing to do so are far greater."

In a recent blow to Washington's efforts to isolate Iraq, the prime minister of Syria, Mustafa Mero, paid a visit to Baghdad just 24 hours after the August 10 U.S.-British bombing raids. Mero is the most senior official to visit Baghdad in 20 years. "Any attack on Iraq is an attack on Syria," he declared. Travel restrictions between the two countries have recently been eased, as the Syrian government seeks to expand its trade ties with Iraq.
Related articles:
Protest Israeli war drive against Palestinian people
Israeli regime steps up assault as Middle East girds for war
Israel's wars against Palestinian liberation
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