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Missiles land in Turkey; no one hurt

[Times photo: John Pendygraft]
MOURNING FALLEN COMRADES: Cpl. Abdul Anburl, front, weeps Sunday during a memorial service in Kuwait for four Marines killed Friday in a helicopter crash south of Basra, Iraq.
Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 24, 2003

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey -- Two missiles, apparently unleashed from U.S. warplanes by mistake, fell Sunday near separate villages in Turkey along a flight corridor to Iraq, Turkish officials said.

No injuries were reported, but the officials said one of the missiles exploded, leaving a flaming crater in a field.

Turkish military authorities sealed off both sites to investigate the incidents, which came a day after American aircraft began crossing Turkish airspace to strike Iraq.

The missiles that fell in Turkey hit around nightfall, two hours and about 90 miles apart in Urfa province, as planes roared overhead, according to Turkish officials. Urfa, in southeastern Turkey, lies along an air corridor approved for overflights by F-18 fighter jets based on aircraft carriers in the eastern Mediterranean.

U.S. and Turkish officials said there was no confirmation that the missiles had come from American aircraft. The Pentagon had no comment on the matter Sunday.

Problems keeping aid out of southern Iraq

ABDULAY, Kuwait -- Almost no humanitarian aid has reached Iraq since the start of the war, and unanticipated military battles and logistical problems in the southern part of the country made it unclear when aid will arrive for people who in some cases are without water and electricity and have been pleading for help, aid officials said.

In a sign that the problem is serious, President Bush said Sunday that massive amounts of humanitarian aid were poised to move into Iraq in the next 36 hours. "That's going to be positive news for those who suffered a long time under Saddam Hussein," he told reporters as he returned to the White House from Camp David.

Most aid organizations say emergency supplies of water, food rations, medicine, shelter materials and hygiene kits are in place in countries bordering Iraq, but none can be brought in because fighting prevents aid teams from entering the country to assess the needs.

"We're ready to go, but we will not go into an unsafe combat environment. We're not trained for that, and not equipped," said Michael Marx, a disaster relief specialist with the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

Among the few aid organizations at work inside Iraq is the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has skeleton staffs in Baghdad, Basra and northern Iraq. It has been able to get medicine and surgical supplies to two Baghdad hospitals and to patch together a source of water for Basra residents, spokeswoman Tamara Al-Rifai said.

U.S. accuses Russian companies of helping Iraq

WASHINGTON -- The State Department protested Sunday that Russian companies sold sensitive military equipment to Iraq in the run-up to U.S.-led war against Saddam Hussein's regime.

One Russian firm is helping the Iraqi military deploy electronic jamming equipment against U.S. planes and bombs, while two other Russian firms have sold antitank missiles and thousands of night-vision goggles in violation of United Nations sanctions, the Washington Post reported Sunday.

The State Department said it had raised the issue with senior levels of the Russian government a number of times, particularly during the past two weeks because the equipment could pose a direct threat to coalition forces. Moscow's response has been unsatisfactory, the State Department said.

The Post identified two of the companies as KBP Tula and Aviaconversiya, a Moscow-based company, saying that KBP supplied antitank guided missiles and Aviaconversiya provided the jamming devices.

'Excited' Iraqis criticize Hussein by long-distance

WASHINGTON -- As Iraqi-Americans reach out to their relatives in Baghdad and Basra, in Kirkuk and Irbil, some are hearing words they never thought possible: Iraqis are speaking ill of Saddam Hussein.

They're criticizing him out loud, on the telephone, seemingly undeterred by fear of the Iraqi intelligence service and its tactics of torture for those disloyal to the Baath Party regime.

"I was shocked," said Zainab Al-Suwaij, executive director of the American Islamic Congress, a nonprofit group in Cambridge, Mass., that promotes interfaith and interethnic understanding. "It's very dangerous. All the phones are tapped. But they are so excited."

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