Five coalition aircraft, two choppers shot down: Iraq

Updated on Mar 23, 2003 08:39 PM IST

Iraq claimed it had also captured American soldiers while four allied jets were shot down.

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PTI | ByReuters, Baghdad

Iraq said on Sunday it had shot down five planes and two helicopters belonging to US-led invasion forces in Iraq had captured several American soldiers.

Defence Ministry spokesman Hazem Abdul-Qader told reporters that four of the planes were shot down over Baghdad while the fifth was downed in the southern city of Basra. A US official discounted Baghdad's claim.

"We have no reports of missing aircraft or pilots," the U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said the two helicopters were shot down in Mosul in the north and a town he named as Simaya. He gave no time frame.


Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan claimed on Sunday that Iraq held several American prisoners of war.

"Within hours you will watch American prisoners on TV screens and you will see films of burnt tanks," he said. Ramadan made the claim during a news conference in Baghdad. The claim could not immediately be substantiated, and US Central Command said it was checking the report.

Ramadan also denied claims that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein may have been injured in the attacks that began four days ago. "I think for the past four days you have the President on television. You have seen the President more than once," he said.

Iraq has baptised the war unleashed by the United States and Britain the "Decisive Battle", after the 1991 "Mother of All Battles". The codename flashes up on Iraq's satellite television channel monitored in Dubai during regular new bulletins.

Its original Arabic name "Maarakat al-Hawassem" is difficult to render exactly in English since decisive is in the plural. Officials have said repeatedly that after 12 years of UN sanctions the new war will be decisive and lead to the defeat of the invaders.

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