(Radar and missile sites struck in south)  (690)

By Jacquelyn S. Porth

USIA Security Affairs Correspondent

Washington -- More than 100 coalition aircraft participated in the

January 13 air strike against Iraqi fixed air-defense and mobile missiles

sites in southern Iraq, says U.S. Marine Corps General Joseph Hoar.

Hoar, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command, told a press briefing

at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, that the mission was prompted

by Iraq's rebuff of a January 6 demarche by Russia, France, the United

Kingdom and the United States to remove its surface-to-air missile (SAM)

sites from below the 32nd parallel and to stop violating the  no-fly zones

in northern and southern Iraq.

Hoar said U.S. fighter planes, including F-117 Stealth aircraft, as well as

French Mirages and British Tornadoes attacked from locations on the Arabian

peninsula, from the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier, and from other

undisclosed sites in the Persian Gulf.

Based on reports from pilots, Hoar said he believed that the mission was a


Operation Southern Watch, he said, was prompted by a continuing "pattern of"

Iraqis violations of United Nations resolutions.  The attack originally was

planned for January 11, but was postponed one day because of bad weather in

the Gulf.

1sked about the U.S. battalion of forces ordered to Kuwait by Bush, Hoar

said the U.S. Army Battalion Task Force (BTF) from Fort Hood, Texas, will

join some 300 U.S. Special Forces troops already in Kuwait to participate

in a training exercise with Kuwaitis later this week; the two U.S. forces

will about 1,000-1,500, he said.

Besides their security training mission, the general said the U.S. military

forces act as a deterrent to possible aggression.  Typically, such training

exercises last between six weeks and two months.

Asked to describe the current status of the Iraqi Army, the general said it

is still "the largest military force" in the Gulf region with approximately

400,000 troops organized into 30 divisions.  The force has tanks, armored

personnel carriers, and artillery pieces numbering in the thousands, he


At a followup background briefing at the Pentagon, a senior Defense

Department official said the coalition air attack caused "a very

significant reduction" in Iraq's anti-aircraft capability.

The strike, which began in the dark and lasted less than an hour, focused on

Iraqi targets in Tallil, as-Samawah, an-Najaf, Amara and al-Basarah.  "All

targets were struck" and all coalition aircraft returned home, the briefer

said, noting that no missiles were launched against coalition aircraft.

Asked why these particular Iraqi sites were struck, the official said the

targets were those which had been giving allied aircraft the most


The official said there is no indication of a new threat from hidden Scud

missiles, although some mobile missiles are still believed hidden despite

intensive U.N. weapons inspections.

The official also sketched out the pattern of incidents which led up to the

January 13 action.  In late November 1992, he said Iraqi aircraft deployed

to al-Jarrah and were then used in mid-December to conduct violations north

of the 32nd parallel.  Other events included:

-- December 27:  An Iraqi MiG-25 launched a missile unsuccessfully against a

U.S. F-15E;

-- December 28:  More Iraqi violations north of the 32nd parallel;

-- December 31:  Iraqi SA-3 missile batteries were deployed in the south;

-- January 1:  Iraqi SA-2 missile batteries were deployed in the south;

-- January 1:  Iraq tried to intercept a U-2 reconnaissance aircraft on a

U.N. mission;

-- January 4:  More Iraqi violations north of the 32nd occurred; and

-- January 6:  A diplomatic demarche was delivered to Iraq;

He also cited the Iraqi seizure of military equipment in the U.N. supervised

neutral zone between Iraq and Kuwait, Iraq's barring the landing of U.N.

aircraft for inspection flights, and Iraqi messages broadcast January 11-12

warning coalition aircraft to stop patrolling in the no-fly zones.