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Saddam Threatens America Saddam Hussein has warned the United States to stop flying its warplanes over Iraq and promised to shoot one down, even if he has to upgrade his air defences to do so.

In a speech marking the 13th anniversary of the end of the Iran-Iraq war Saddam said: "If you care that your pilots and your aircraft are not harmed by the weapons of the high spirited freedom fighters of great Iraq, then take your aircraft and battleships and go home."

On Monday British and American planes bombed Iraqi anti-aircraft positions in the northern no-fly zone near Mosul.

Risky business

The US has voiced concerns in recent weeks that Iraq is strengthening its air defence systems and said missions over Iraq were becoming more risky.

Saddam also said that George W Bush was using this as a pretext to bomb Iraq.

Allied aircraft took out several key buildings in Baghdad the last time such air raids were carried out and have repeatedly targeted anti-aircraft positions and radar installations in the no-fly zones in the south and north.

The US president has again called Saddam Hussein "a menace". George W Bush ordered an attack on Baghdad in February shortly after taking office.,,30200-1025778,00.html

-- Martin Thompson (, August 09, 2001

Answers -- | Section: World

Aug. 9, 2001, 7:18AM

Iraq says it may have hit U.S. or British warplane Reuters News Service

BAGHDAD - Iraq has said its air defenses may have hit a U.S. or British warplane flying over northern Iraq on Wednesday.

An army spokesman told the Iraqi News Agency late on Wednesday that the aircraft was part of a formation based in Turkey that flew 22 sorties over northern Iraq that day.

"Evidence points to the probability of one plane getting hit," the spokesman said.

A spokesman at Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey said today: "That's utterly false. Our planes did fly yesterday, but all aircraft returned safely. Our aircraft were fired upon, but they did not respond."

Incirlik is the base for U.S. and British planes patrolling over northern Iraq.

The Iraqi spokesman said British and U.S. planes had also flown over the other "no-fly" zone in southern Iraq from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Western air raids have been a regular occurrence since Baghdad decided in December 1998 to challenge jets patrolling the northern and southern no-fly zones set up after the 1991 Gulf War.

The zones were set up by Western powers to protect Muslim Shi'ites in the south and a Kurdish enclave in the north from possible attack by Iraqi government forces.

The latest Iraqi report came shortly after President Saddam Hussein warned the United States to stop flying over Iraq, saying Baghdad had the right to upgrade its air defenses.

Sentiment in Iraq has been uneasy. Reports in the Arab press said a large-scale American strike, like the one on military installations near Baghdad in February, was imminent after Washington discovered that Iraq has upgraded its air defences.

-- Martin Thompson (, August 09, 2001.

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