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Iraq Tracks Planes But Holds Fire

Iraqi air defense systems have been tracking U.S. and allied warplanes on radar, a U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday, but Baghdad has kept its promise not to fire on the aircraft.

The planes are patrolling “no-fly” zones in northern and southern Iraq. Although Baghdad has pledged not to fire at them, radar tracking continues, Lt. Col. Andrew Bourland said in a telephone interview from the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

“We merely picked up an indication that their (tracking) systems were turned on,” Bourland said. “We only experienced minor indications from Iraqi surface-to-air encampments which we don’t consider any significant threat.”

Fresh clashes involving two rival Kurdish groups also were reported Wednesday along the Iraq-Iran border. And U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Pelletreau met with the leader of one of those factions, the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s Massoud Barzani.

Neither man spoke with reporters afterward. U.S. officials have said they wanted to persuade Barzani to share power with the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.


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