From The Sunday Times, Michael Smith reports today [link] on a new briefing that appears to show that pre-war bombings in Iraq did occur, and it is an American General who commanded allied air forces during the Iraq war who is quoted.

The briefing outlines the time frame (beginning mid-2002) and strategy used (number of missions, type of bombs, and target selection).

Addressing a briefing on lessons learnt from the Iraq war Lieutenant-General Michael Moseley said that in 2002 and early 2003 allied aircraft flew 21,736 sorties, dropping more than 600 bombs on 391 “carefully selected targets” before the war officially started.

The nine months of allied raids “laid the foundations” for the allied victory, Moseley said. They ensured that allied forces did not have to start the war with a protracted bombardment of Iraqi positions.

Smith states that if these air raids exceeded the response required (and allowed by UN) to maintain no-fly zones, then it shows that the US and UK have acted illegally.

Moseley told the briefing at Nellis airbase in Nebraska on July 17, 2003, that the raids took place under cover of patrols of the southern no-fly zone; their purpose was ostensibly to protect the ethnic minorities.

This further strengthens the legitimacy of the DSM, which described the tactic of increased air raids to put pressure on Saddam Hussein’s regime.

If true, the briefing shows that the US used these air raids not only to provoke Saddam, but to ease their way once the real or legitimate war began.

Also, the wording shows that the US was aware of the legalities of increased air raids, and so carried them out under the auspices of protection of ethic minorities.

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