Six Iraqi civilians have been killed and 15 others wounded in a US-British air strike on the southern province of Basra, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported Monday.
The "evil US-British warplanes" carried out the raid late Sundayagainst "civilian and service installations in the province of Basra," an Iraqi military spokesman said in a dispatch carried by INA.
The raid led to the "martyrdom of six citizens and the injury of15 others," the spokesman said, adding that Iraqi anti-aircraft units fired at the planes in defense.
In Washington, the US military confirmed that its warplanes taking part in the US-British air patrols on Monday attacked five air defence targets in the southern "no-fly" zone of Iraq in response to anti-aircraft fire from the ground.
The air raids were conducted at a time when the United States and Britain have massed about 200,000 troops in the Gulf poised to launch an invasion of Iraq to disarm it of weapons of mass destruction.
The United States and Britain, in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, set up a so-called no-fly zone over southern Iraq, with the claimed aim to protect the Shiite Muslims there from the persecution of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. A similar air exclusion zone was also established over northern Iraq to protect the Kurdish population there. Iraq never recognizes the no-fly zones, which it says are not authorized by any specific United Nations resolution. Its air defenses often fired at U.S. and British aircraft enforcing the flight ban in the areas.