Iraq fires missiles after US raid
Published: March 20 2003 6:36 | Last Updated: March 20 2003 16:03
Up to six Iraqi missiles and one apparent suicide aeroplane attack struck near Allied bases in Kuwait on Thursday in retaliation to US-led dawn air-strikes on Iraq.
No casualties have been reported among US and British forces, though full information has not been received on one of the attacks, which struck the north east side of Kuwait City and appeared aimed at Camp Doha, the main US military base in Kuwait.
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Soldiers at bases throughout the Kuwaiti desert were sent scurrying to cement shelters throughout the day responding to the missile attacks, donning gas masks to guard against the possibility of chemical agents.
The Iraqi attacks started at 7:18 in the morning Kuwait time, when a Cessna aircraft released a missile at US Marines near Camp Commando in Eastern Kuwaiti desert, before diving and crashing the plane within 100m of their positions. The missile impacted 40km away.
At 9:45, US Patriot anti-missile batteries reacted to the launch of 3 Iraqi surface to surface missiles over the Kuwaiti border. One of the missiles was destroyed, though US officials said they couldn’t be certain whether it had broken up on its own.
At 12:25, a fourth Iraqi surface to surface missile was launched, though officials gave no details on its impact, except that it did no harm. Three hours later a fifth missile impacted in the north east of Kuwait City. Details are as yet unavailable on the full extent of the damage or of a sixth missile which is reported to have been fired.
British and US jets were immediately scrambled to scour southern Iraq for the mobile missile launchers used for each attack and forces in northern Kuwait are understood to have bombarded Iraqi positions just over the border.
None of the Iraqi missiles appeared to be carrying chemical or biological weapons, and US military officials said were not Scud missiles, which have ranges of up to 800km. Baghdad's Scuds should have been destroyed under United Nations in 1991 but the regime is thought to have at least 20 missiles left.
It is possible that the missiles launched against US-led troops were instead Abadil-100s, derived from the Soviet-era Frog-7 battlefield missile. Two of the missiles were described by US military officials as Chinese-made Seersucker anti-ship missiles.
Military officials also claimed that the missiles did not necessarily indicate that Mr Hussein had survived as the order to fire could have come from lower down Iraq’s chain of command.
"These are the opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign."
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"The fact that they’ve been launched doesn’t indicate whether he’s dead or alive, because control of these things are delegated," said one British military source
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