A U.S. review indicates a lion's share of Iraqi air defense batteries have been destoyred.
U.S. officials and Western diplomatic sources said U.S. Central Command
has assessed that allied war planes have destroyed all stationary Iraqi
anti-aircraft batteries in southern and northern Iraq. They said many of the
mobile systems have also been destroyed, particularly in southern Kuwait.
The U.S. attacks on Iraqi anti-aircraft batteries have been accompanied
by accelerated psychological operations. On Monday, U.S. and British
aircraft operating from Turkey's Incerlik air base dropped 240,000 leaflets
on two locations -- south of Tall Afar and southwest of Lake Saddam, Middle East Newsline reported.
Officials said Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery sites at these locations have
repeatedly fired on coalition aircraft enforcing the northern no-fly zone.
"Any hostile action by Iraqi air defense will be answered by instant
retaliation," the leaflet said. "Iraqi air defense positions which fire on
coalition aircraft or activate air defense radar will be attacked and
The allied effort reflects a goal to destroy Iraqi air defense assets
before the start of a full-scale war against Baghdad, the officials and
sources said. The Iraqi systems targeted included those located along the
Jordanian and Syrian borders.
Officials said Iraqi air defenses have fired either surface-to-air
missiles or anti-aircraft artillery at coalition aircraft more than 110
times in 2003. On Monday, U.S. and British fighter-jets struck an Iraqi
mobile air defense asset identified by U.S. Central Command as an
acquisition radar system, deployed about 360 miles west of Baghdad.
Officials said the radar was deemed a threat and would have allowed
Iraqi air defenses to locate, track and target coalition aircraft. It was
the third allied attack on Iraqi targets in as many days.
On Sunday, U.S. and British aircraft bombed five unmanned, underground
military communication sites near A-Numinayah, about 100 kilometers
southeast of Baghdad. The aircraft struck the sites after Iraqi forces fired
a surface-to-air missile earlier in the day.
Allied aircraft also struck four Iraqi communications sites near Qalat
Sukkar, about 200 kilometers southeast of Baghdad on Saturday. Officials
said the aircraft used precision-guided munitions to strike the facilities
after Iraqi air defense gunners fired on the aircraft. They said the
military communication sites had enhanced Iraq's ability to command and
control air defenses.