U.S. warplanes bombed three air defense positions in southern Iraq after coalition aircraft came under fire.
Navy Admiral David Gove told reporters in Washington that U.S. warplanes attacked three Iraqi unmanned air defense communications sites after coming under missile and artillery fire. "The Iraqis fired surface-to-air weapons at our coalition aircraft in Operation Southern Watch. We responded by dropping precision guided munitions on three Iraqi air-defense communications facilities near Al Kut and Al-Basrah," Admiral Gove said.
Admiral Gove said the Iraqis have fired on coalition aircraft in the southern no-fly zone on nine of the past 13 days.
Defense Department spokeswoman Torrie Clark said the United States takes the firings seriously, but will not be intimidated from patrolling both the southern and northern no-fly zones.
"One is that we are going to continue to patrol these no-fly zones. We are going to continue to protect the Iraqi people from the Saddam Hussein regime. The second thing is, we do consider it a material breach and it is up to the president and others to decide when it is appropriate and if it is appropriate for there to be military action against Iraq," he said.
U.S. officials say they believe the firing on coalition aircraft does violate the latest U.N. Security Council Resolution demanding that Saddam Hussein disarm. But U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan said Tuesday that he doubts the full U.N. Security Council would agree with that view.