Iraq blasts Saudi Arabia, Kuwait after allied attack kills 2

BAGHDAD, Iraq - An allied airstrike hit a warehouse storing humanitarian aid, killing two people, Iraqi officials said, prompting Baghdad to accuse Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on Saturday of backing aggression.

In Friday's strike, U.S. and British planes struck in the city of Samawa, 168 miles south of Baghdad, hitting the main food ration distribution center used to store food allowed under the U.N. oil-for-food deal, Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh told reporters.

Along with two civilians killed, 19 others were injured, Iraqi officials said.

President Saddam Hussein met Saturday with his two top ruling councils - the Regional Command of the al-Baath ruling party and the Revolutionary Command Council - and discussed the ''aggression which destroys Iraqi properties with American backing and Saudi-Kuwaiti support,'' the official Iraqi News Agency reported.

''The Saudis are first in aggression followed by the Kuwaiti rulers in treason,'' the council said in a statement carried by INA.

Iraq has criticized Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, along with Turkey, for allowing American and British allies to use their bases for daily flights over the no-fly zones of northern and southern Iraq.

Iraq also blames the Kuwaitis and Saudis for the U.N. sanctions imposed on its 22 million people since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Iraq says allied airstrikes have killed more than 300 citizens and injured at least 900 others. The allies dispute these figures and say their strikes are made in self defense when planes patrolling the no fly zones are targeted by Iraqi air defenses.

The U.S. Central Command said that allied aircraft struck two Iraqi air defense sites on Saturday after anti-aircrafy artillery opened fire on planes patrolling the zone. There was no immediate report on damage.

The command said in a statement from its headquarters in Florida that on Friday coalition planes struck two command posts and a surface-to-air missile site. It made no mention of Iraq's claims of two dead, but said allied airstrikes ''do not target civilian populations or infrastructure'' and seek to avoid civilian casualties.

Ahmed Ali, spokesman from the Samawa governate, said Friday's strike hit six residential houses and several government buildings, as well as the warehouse.

The bombing ''is a criminal act committed by the American and British administrations,'' Saleh told reporters.

The news agency INA said the strikes were in response to a speech by Saddam on Tuesday in which he said his Gulf neighbors had ''sold their souls'' to the United States and Israel.

In a letter sent Saturday to the United Nations, Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf accused the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments of ''providing logistical support for the American and British forces, making them contributing partners in the aggression.''

The foreign minister demanded that the U.N. Security Council ''rise up to its responsibilities in keeping the international security and peace by stopping the continued aggression.''

The United States and Britain have been enforcing zones since the end of the 1991 Gulf War. The zones were set up to protect Shiite Muslim rebels in the south and Kurdish insurgents in the north from attacks by Iraq's army.


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