The United States has struck an Iraqi anti-ship missile
launcher near the Persian Gulf.
Officials said the missile launcher threatened U.S. and allied ships in
the Gulf region. They said the launcher was located near the port of Basra.
Officials said this was a rare allied attack on an Iraqi anti-ship
missile battery, Middle East Newsline reported.
"The coalition targeted the anti-ship missile launcher because it was a
threat to coalition maritime forces operating in the north Arabian Gulf,"
U.S. Central Command said on Monday.
Most of the attacks by British and U.S. warplanes have
targeted Iraqi air defense facilities.
On Friday, British and U.S. fighter-jets attacked an Iraqi air defense
command near the Kuwaiti border. The attack also targeted four
Central Command said the U.S. military has also been dropping leaflets
to Iraqi troops that warn them against attacking allied warplanes. Leaflets
have been dropped at a rate of more than once a week since November.
The United States has been sending thousands of troops in the Gulf
region over the last week. Most of the troops are being deployed in Kuwait,
where a major exercise is planned over the next few weeks. On Monday, the
U.S. military held an urban warfare exercise near the Iraqi border.
But Middle East diplomats and officials said the United States appears
uncertain over whether it will have enough military assets and international
support to launch a war against Iraq by March. In Ankara, Turkish Deputy
Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener said the U.S.-led war could be postponed to
In an unrelated development, Arab diplomatic sources reported that
Lebanese security authorities have confiscated 12 tons of military equipment
bound for Iraq. They said the equipment was bought in Belarus by Lebanese
agents for the regime of President Saddam Hussein.