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Kuwaiti, US Patriots shoot down Iraqi missiles
By Mehrdad Balali, Reuters, 4/1/03
KUWAIT -- An Iraqi missile fired at Kuwait was shot down by a Kuwaiti Patriot battery on Tuesday, while a U.S. Patriot brought down a missile fired from south of Baghdad in the direction of U.S. troops in Iraq, officials said.
The Kuwaiti military said one of its Patriot anti-missile batteries had shot down an incoming missile over southern Iraq. Air raid sirens sounded briefly in Kuwait City before the all-clear was signalled.
An official at U.S. Central Command in Qatar said there had been several reports of missiles fired in Iraq on Tuesday, including one aimed at the Najaf region, where large numbers of the U.S. troops are concentrated.
"This morning we have several reports of surface-to-surface missiles, one specifically fired from south of Baghdad into the ...Najaf region. That was taken out by a Patriot missile and caused no harm." U.S. Navy Captain Frank Thorp said.
Najaf lies 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad. U.S.-led forces around the city have battled Iraqi troops and paramilitary fighters in the area in recent days.
British officials said two Iraqi Seersucker anti-ship missiles landed near British commandos and a prisoner of war camp on the Faw peninsula opposite the southern port of Umm Qasr. Such missiles skim low and can escape detection by radar.
Kuwaiti officials say Iraq has fired at least 19 missiles at Kuwait since the U.S. and British war in Iraq began on March 20.
Almost all have been brought down by Patriots. But on Saturday, an anti-ship missile that evaded detection by Kuwaiti radar slammed into a breakwater in Kuwait City, spraying a seafront shopping mall with debris. Two people were hurt.
Earlier on Tuesday, a Kuwaiti Patriot missile was fired after a sentry near the border with Iraq reported what he thought was an incoming missile flying below radar level. A Kuwaiti military spokesman said the Patriot missile eventually detonated itself without intercepting any incoming missile.
Military officials say many missiles fired at Kuwait have been Silkworm anti-ship missiles, also known as Seersucker.
"There are reports of Seersucker-type missiles being fired towards the Iraq-Kuwait border. We believe they are being fired from somewhere around Basra," British Group Captain Al Lockwood told Reuters at Central Command forward headquarters in Qatar.
British forces in southern Iraq are still fighting for control of Basra, Iraq's second largest city.
Kuwait was the main launchpad for the U.S. and British ground war against Iraq. Unlike many other Arab countries, Kuwait is a staunch supporter of the war.
U.S.-led forces drove Iraqi troops out of Kuwait in the 1991 Gulf War and the American military has maintained a large presence there ever since.