Iraqi Artillery Targeted By U.S. Jets

Team captain Ian Woosnam, of Wales, poses with the Ryder Cup trophy as some of the victorious European Ryder Cup team members gathered at Dublin airport Monday, Sept. 25, 2006 in Dublin, Ireland, before leaving the Emerald Isle following Europe's decisive victory over the U.S. at The K Club.
Getty Images/Andrew Redington
U.S. aircraft bombed Iraqi air defenses Monday for the third time this month after coming under fire while patrolling a no-fly zone in northern Iraq, European Central Command (EUCOM) based in Germany said.

Iraq said one person was injured in an attack on what it said were civilian targets in the same area last week.

EUCOM said aircraft of the joint U.S.-British force had come under Iraqi anti-aircraft fire while patrolling near the town of Bashiqah, 250 miles north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

"Coalition aircraft responded to the Iraqi attacks by dropping ordnance on elements of the Iraqi integrated air defense system," it said in a statement. "All coalition aircraft departed the area safely."

The U.S.-British force patrols the northern no-fly zone from an airbase in southern Turkey. The planes returned safely to Incirlik air base in southern Turkey.

Western air raids have become a regular occurrence since Baghdad considers the zones violations of its territorial sovereignty and decided in December 1998 to challenge jets patrolling northern and southern no-fly zones set up by Western powers after the 1991 Gulf War.

The zones were set up to protect Moslem Shiites in the south and a Kurdish enclave in the north from possible attack by Iraqi government forces.

Meanwhile, in remarks published Sunday, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the U.S. will be defeated in Iraq in the same way it was defeated in Vietnam.

Saddam was speaking at a reception for Vietnam's first Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tang Dung on Saturday, the government-run newspaper Al-Thawra reported.

"Iraq will continue to face American aggression against its cities and installations," Saddam said, "and, in the same way the Americans were forced to declare directly or indirectly their failure in Vietnam, ... they will be forced to declare their failure in Iraq."

Dung left Baghdad Sunday at the end of a visit designed to promote trade and bilateral ties. During the visit, Iraq and Vietnam signed an agreement on economic cooperation.

The agreement includes work on increasing cooperation in the oil, agriculture and trade sectors, the official Iraqi News Agency reported Sunday.

Iraq asked the U.N. on Sunday to free up $400 million from the surplus in an escrow account to purchase humanitarian supplies for the Iraqi people.

The request came in a letter from Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and was carried by the official Iraqi News Agency.

"I call upon you to transfer these funds to buy humanitarian supplies for Iraqis instead of keeping them useless in the escrow account," said al-Sahhaf in his letter.

The oil-for-food program allows Iraq to circumvent U.N. economic sanctions and sell oil under U.N. supervision. However, the money earned has to be deposited in an escrow account in a French bank and can oly be used to buy food and humanitarian goods after every contract has been approved by the U.N. sanctions committee.

On Saturday, Deputy Agriculture Minister Basil al-Dalali said more than $7 billion is frozen in the account.

In a statement issued May 30, the U.N Iraqi Program's Office estimated that 1,185 contracts worth $1.68 billion are being held by the sanctions committee. Sanctions were imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Al-Sahhaf blamed the U.S. and British representatives for the contract delays.

"They approve a contract for a machine, putting on hold another contract for parts needed to make the machine work," said al-Sahhaf in his letter.

He asked Annan to apply pressure on the U.S. and Britain to "stop this abnormal situation."

"These governments must understand that their criminal policy toward Iraq, which is causing the death of many children, women and elderly, shall bring shame to them in the present and the future."