Coalition aircraft have dropped tens-of-thousands of new leaflets over southern Iraq, in a fresh attempt to dissuade Iraqi gunners from firing on patrolling U.S. and British planes.
The latest leaflet drops took place Sunday, with 180,000 dropped near the southern port city of Basra and another town, Samawah.
The leaflets again urged Iraqi gunners not to fire on coalition aircraft. One said, "Before you engage coalition aircraft, think about the consequences, think about your family, do what you must to survive." It depicts the destruction of an Iraqi anti-aircraft gun, as well as an Iraqi soldier and what appears to be his grieving widow.
The other also shows the destruction of an Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery piece, which had fired on a coalition plane. It said simply, "You decide."
Pentagon officials say the intent of the drop, the second this month, is to urge Iraqi soldiers not to fire on coalition planes, and to explain to Iraqi civilians why U.S. and British aircraft hit Iraqi air defense sites.
Rear Admiral David Gove of the Pentagon's Joint Staff says there has been a recent decline in the number of incidents in which Iraqi guns and missiles have attempted to down coalition planes.
But Admiral Gove says it is not clear if the leaflet drops are having an effect. "I don't know if it had an effect on how they go after coalition aircraft in the Northern or Southern no-fly zones," he said.
Meanwhile, Pentagon officials acknowledge members of the National Guard and Reserves would undoubtedly have to be summoned to active duty, if President Bush decides to attack Iraq to rid the country of weapons of mass destruction.
But these officials will not discuss how many would be activated or the assignments the additional forces would be given. Pentagon chief spokeswoman Victoria Clarke says planning is under way, but stresses no decisions have yet been made.
"Things take a lot of planning and a lot of foresight," she said. "But, as you have heard [Defense] Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld and Chairman [of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard] Myers say many times, the president has not yet decided what he may or may not do in terms of military action in Iraq."
There are currently some 53,000 Reserve and Guard members on active military duty, called up in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
During the 1991 Gulf war, 265,000 members of the Guard and Reserves were activated.