Pentagon Claims Iraq Ground Fire Caused Civilian Casualties

Published May 19th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The Pentagon Thursday said its aircraft dropped no bombs or missiles in flights over southern Iraq Wednesday, and that any civilian casualties claimed by Baghdad were probably caused by Iraqi ground fire. 

Journalists were shown a blackened crater in a wheat field in the province of Najaf Wednesday where the Iraqi military said a US missile killed a 12-year-old child and wounded four other civilians. 

Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said US and British aircraft overflew the area and were attacked by Iraqi anti-aircraft fire and possibly missiles, but they did not respond. 

"They dropped no ordnance," Bacon said. "And therefore, if there was any damage on the ground, or if any civilians were killed, it probably happened by friendly fire -- by what Iraq shot up and ultimately came back down again." 

Iraq says that 297 people have been killed and 883 injured in US-British air raids in Iraq since Operation Desert Fox, a four-day air campaign in December 1998. 

US and British warplanes, which have enforced no-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq since 1991, often retaliate against ground fire and missile launches with air strikes on Iraq's air defense system -- WASHINGTON (AFP)  


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