ACCESSION NUMBER:262632 FILE ID:POL402 DATE:01/14/93 TITLE:AIR STRIKE ON IRAQI TARGETS "BIG SUCCESS," BUSH SAYS (01/14/93) TEXT:*93011402.POL AIR STRIKE ON IRAQI TARGETS "BIG SUCCESS," BUSH SAYS (Attack on missile sites made skies safer) (460) By Alexander M. Sullivan USIA White House Correspondent Washington -- The skies over Iraq "are a lot safer for our pilots," President Bush declared January 14, even though only half the intended Iraqi targets were hit. Chatting briefly with reporters, Bush called the January 13 air strike on Iraqi missile batteries below the 32nd Parallel "a big success." Earlier, the president's national security affairs adviser, Brent Scowcroft, confirmed reports that only half the Iraqi surface-to-air missiles sites had been hit by the British, French and U.S. aircraft sent to punish Saddam Hussein's defiance of United Nations and Persian Gulf coalition orders. According to news reports, about 80 strike aircraft took part in the raid, which followed a January 6 ultimatum to Baghdad demanding removal of the missiles from the southern "no-fly" zone imposed at the time of the Persian Gulf war. U.S. F-15s, F-16s, F-18s and F-117s took part in the raid, together with French Mirages and British Tornadoes. Additional support aircraft also participated. The planes bombed Iraqi radar and missile sites near Nasiriya, Samawa, Najaf and Al Amara. The sites are not near population centers, according to the reports. Bush, giving his first assessment of the results of the limited attack, told reporters, "I think the mission was a big success. The skies are a little safer for our air crews, our pilots, our airmen today....I'm very proud of the way (the airmen) performed....Let's just hope that Saddam Hussein got the message....I hope that he will comply with these United Nations resolutions." The president told a questioner it is "too early to tell" whether Saddam Hussein will end his defiance of the U.N. Security Council. Baghdad has rescinded its attempt to ban flights by U.N. aircraft inside Iraq and has said it will no longer cross into the de-militarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait. In addition, the Iraqi regime has sabotaged U.N. relief shipments to the Kurds in northern Iraq. Bush said the air strike, described by U.S. officials as a limited assault meant to make a political rather than a military point, "certainly sends that message loud and clear to him (Saddam Hussein)." Asked about Scowcroft's assessment that only half the intended targets had been hit, Bush retorted, "What about it? The skies are a lot safer today for our pilots. They went in there (with) a wide array of defensive equipment threatening them and that threat has been severely reduced. That's the bottom line. That's the important point....I'm very proud of them." 1NNN .