Iraq Urges UNIKOM to Report Airspace Violations by US,British Warplanes

Iraq demanded on Wednesday that the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM) live up to its duties and report to the UN Security Council about violations of the Iraqi airspace by US and British warplanes.

In a letter to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, carried by the official Iraqi News Agency, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri Ahmed urged Annan to "instruct" the UNIKOM to perform its mission and " immediately" inform the UN Security Council of the matter.

"From August 8-17, there were altogether 110 violations of Iraq's airspace by the US and British jets from their bases in Kuwait and through the demilitarized zone controlled by the UNIKOM," Ahmed said.

He also urged the UN to take necessary measures to stop such air breaches, and look into the full responsibilities of the " perpetrators."

Moreover, Iraq's technical equipment has identified the models of the Anglo-American warplanes crossing into Iraq's airspace as F-14, F-15, F-16, F-18 and British drones, he added.

Iraq has often slammed the UNIKOM for keeping silent over the US and British jets' patrolling over a no-fly zone in southern Iraq.

The southern no-fly zone, together with another in the north, were established by the US-led Western allies after the 1991 Gulf War to allegedly protect the Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south from possible attacks by Iraqi government troops.

UNIKOM Commander John A. Vize said on August 30 that a total of 195 military monitors can not identify the warplanes that fly over the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border.

"If I, or any of my soldiers, identified a US or a British or whatever aircraft by its makings, then we will report this," he said.

Annan said in February that the UNIKOM had recorded more than 200 aerial violations of the border since 1991, but it could not determine the nationalities.

The UNIKOM has patrolled the demilitarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait since the Gulf War, triggered by Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

People's Daily Online ---