US denies striking Shiite mosques in Najaf
The US military denied on Thursday it had struck mosques in the holy Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf in central Iraq.india Updated: Apr 03, 2003 13:14 IST
The US military denied on Thursday it had struck mosques in the holy Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf in central Iraq, and accused forces loyal to Iraqi president Saddam Hussein of being behind any damage to protected sites there.
"Our soldiers didn't strike them," 101st Airborne Division Aviation Brigade commander Colonel Greg Gass said here in response to Iraqi charges US forces had bombed mosques in Najaf and nearby Karbala.
"If they were struck I expect they were struck by the Sunnis or members of the Baath Party."
Saddam is a member of Iraq's Sunni Muslim faith, which dominates the ruling Baath Party which has persecuted the country's majority Shiites during his reign.
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf said on Wednesday that US-led forces were trying to destroy the revered tombs of imams Ali and Hussein in Najaf and Karbala.
"They have bombarded some mosques in Najaf and Kabala," he told reporters in Baghdad, adding US warplanes screeching low over the holy sites would damage them.
"They are trying to crack the buildings by flying low over them," he said. "This will be scorned by all Shiites all over the world."
The US military has said Najaf is close to being secure for their troops, but forces loyal to Saddam are still reportedly holed up in and around Ali's mosque in Najaf.
First Published: Apr 03, 2003 13:14 IST