U.S. Counters Iraq's Increased Aggression


  By Linda D. Kozaryn
 American Forces Press Service 
  27 January 1999 

 WASHINGTON -- The United States is meeting Iraq's increased 
 aggression head-on and will continue to do so as long as it 
 lasts, according to Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon. 
 "Iraq is mounting a very aggressive, determined, day-in-
 and-day-out attack against the planes patrolling the no-fly 
 zone," Bacon said here Jan. 26. The United States is 
 "responding appropriately" to that higher threat level in 
 its continuing effort to enforce the U.N.-mandated no-fly 
 zones, he said.
 U.S. pilots have "adequate authority" to protect themselves 
 and their missions, Bacon said. President Clinton expanded 
 that authority recently at the request of Marine Gen. 
 Anthony C. Zinni, commander of U.S. Central Command and 
 Operation Southern Watch, he added.
 Bacon would not detail the rules of engagement, but 
 stressed the United States and its coalition partners 
 firmly intend to enforce the no-fly zones. "We are 
 determined to do so in a way that protects our pilots ... and 
 prevents Saddam Hussein from organizing his troops to 
 attack his neighbors or his own people," he said. 
 Since the coalition's Desert Fox bombing operation in late 
 December, Iraq has intensified its defiance of the no-fly 
 zones, declaring them invalid. More than 100 Iraqi planes 
 have violated the zones, and Iraqi forces have attacked 
 coalition planes with anti-aircraft missiles and guns. The 
 United States has responded in kind, striking missile sites 
 and radar systems in both northern and southern Iraq. 
 Along with aircraft incursions, the Iraqis have positioned 
 more anti-aircraft missiles and other air defense assets in 
 the no-fly zones, Bacon said. This violates the 1991 U.N.-
 Iraq Gulf War cease-fire agreement. He noted U.S. planes 
 previously ignored Iraqi missile sites in the zones because 
 they did not challenge coalition patrols -- but now that 
 they do, the United States is striking back.
 "Our goal is to be able to execute the patrols over the no-
 fly zones without threats from Iraq," Bacon said. "This is 
 a choice for Saddam Hussein to make. So far, he is 
 suffering losses on a daily basis. If he chooses to 
 continue suffering those losses, we will continue to 
 inflict those losses on him. ... As long as he continues to 
 threaten and attack our planes, we will respond.
 "If he wants to honor the no-fly zone and return to his 
 previous status of not attacking our planes, we will be 
 pleased and we will see that as a sign of good sense on his 
 U.S. and coalition pilots of operations Southern and 
 Northern Watch have flown about 200,000 patrol sorties to 
 enforce no-fly zones over Iraq north of the 36th parallel 
 and south of the 33rd parallel. The zones, created after 
 the Gulf War, were mandated by U.N. Security Council 
 Resolutions 678, 687, and 688 to deter Iraq's use of 
 aircraft against its people and its neighbors.
 Related Site of Interest
 DoD News Briefing, Tuesday, January 26, 1999