U.S. Hits Iraq Again

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Less than 24 hours after the first cruise missile attack on Iraqi air defense installations, another flight of missiles was launched to finish the job. At 8pm EDT Tuesday, three U.S. Navy ships and an attack submarine launched 17 cruise missiles at four sites the first attack failed to destroy. The second strike, said White House spokesman Mike McCurry was "necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and crews operating in the expanded no-fly zone." U.S, British and French air forces began patrolling the expanded zone midday Wednesday Iraqi time, unfazed by Saddam Hussein's clearly stated intention to shoot them down. Should he try, U.S. forces have made equally clear that another round of attacks may be launched. So far, no Iraqi planes have taken up the challenge. The United States launched the missile attacks after Iraqi forces went into action last weekend, supporting one Kurdish faction against another in a military campaign the U.S. condemns as brutal. While international condemnation of Iraq's actions has been strong, support for the U.S. retaliation has been mixed. Britain, Germany and Israel approve of the U.S. move, while France and sometime Iraqi ally Russia deplore the missile strikes. The most telling effect of international disapproval is the hold up in Iraq's return to the world oil market. The U.N. was on the verge of approving Iraqi oil sales, with the proviso that the proceeds be used for food supplies. Now, the Iraqi government will lose these new resources until it backs down. "Why would Iraq march on the Kurds, when the obvious consequence is losing the oil sales," asks TIME's Johanna McGeary. "Perhaps Saddam is not as eager to have the sales go through as it may have appeared. The food and medical supplies would come from humanitarian organizations to the Iraqi people. Saddam would have no control and get no credit for the operation. Secondly, foreign monitors would accompany the distribution, a condition which galls Saddam. Finally, Saddam would lose one of the propaganda points which wins him support and sympathy in the Arab world. If innocent suffering Muslim civilians are fed and medicated, then other Arab countries will remember why they don't like Saddam in the first place." If that is the case, perhaps the next parcels the United States sends Saddam's way should not go boom. -- Terence Nelan