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U.S. aircraft return fire in Iraq's southern no-fly zone

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Coalition aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone in Iraq launched a raid on a telecommunications site in Iraq Thursday, in response to surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery fire from Iraqi forces, a Central Command official said.

Coalition jets had been on a routine flight in support of Operation Southern Watch when crews replied to the ground fire in self-defense around 5:00pm, EDT Thursday.

The raid, using precision-guided bombs, targeted and struck what was described as a military cable repeater. The site was being used to coordinate ground-based attacks on the coalition aircraft, according to Lt. Commander Frank Merriman, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

Merriman said Thursday's raid was about 80 miles southeast of Baghdad in Diwaniyah, Iraq.

Before Thursday's military strike, the most recent Coalition response to Iraqi attacks on aircraft monitoring the Southern No-Fly Zone occurred July 14, 2002 against an Iraqi mobile radar unit. The portable facility was associated with a mobile surface-to-air missile launcher, Merriman said.




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