Iraqi Missiles Hit Tehran After 3-Day Lull
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Iraq said it fired three missiles into Tehran and Isfahan on Monday, ending a three-day lull in the ″war of the cities.″
Iran reported later it fired two missiles at ″key military targets″ in Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, and shelled the battered port city of Basra in southern Iraq, the naval base at Umm Qasr and three border towns.
Iran said the Iraqi missile attacks killed at least 20 civilians.
Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency, monitord in Cyprus, quoted Brig. Gen. Mohammed Hussein Jalali, the defense minister, as saying Iran is now making most of its own missiles and was capable of ″turning Baghdad into an inferno ... if the criminal attacks on Iranian cities continue.″
IRNA rported Jalali said Iran is producing two types of missiles with ranges of 80 miles or more. The report did not elaborate.
Iraq also has said it is making its own medium-range missiles. Iran has used Soviet-made missiles and some Western analysts believe the Iraqi missiles are modifications of Soviet weapons.
The official Iraqi News Agency said the missiles were fired at Tehran and Isfahan in retaliation for Iranian shelling Sunday of residential districts in Khanaqin and two Iraqi border cities.
Iran and Iraq have been at war since September 1980.
In ground action, IRNA said Iranian-backed Iraqi rebels killed 680 Iraqi soldiers and destroyed four bases in northeastern Iraq in the last few days.
It claimed 180 Iraqi troopers were killed near Zardeh in Sulaimaniyeh province in ″infiltration operations″ and 500 were slain in an ambush of a relief column.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards launched an offensive in the strategic region last monthi and Iran said the operations were to avenge the deaths of 5,000 Kurds who it said were killed by Iraqi chemical warfare attacks March 16-17.
The Iranians claim they have captured 540 square miles of territory in northeastern Iraq since March 16.
Iraq said its warplanes and helicopter gunships flew 320 combat missions against Iranian forces and other targets Monday.
That’s the highest number of missions reported flown in one day for months and indicated heavy action along the 730-mile front.
On Friday, the Iraqis fired several missiles at Tehran and other cities before dawn as Iranians prepared to vote for a new 270-seat Majlis, as the parliament is called.
Dispatches from Baghdad said the Iraqis stopped shooting after that to ″facilitate the vote-casting process, hoping that new, responsible elements would be elected to parliament who might seriously view the question of the war and put an end to it.″
Reports from the Iranian agency said Iraq sought to disrupt the vote and a ″massive turnout at the polls ... was a bitter defeat for the tottering regime in Baghdad.″
It confirmed one missile hit Tehran on Monday and another exploded in Isfahan, which was the capital of Persia in the 17th century. A mosque, hospital and homes were damaged in the two cities, IRNA reported.
Five civilians were killed and seven wounded Monday by an Iraqi air raid near the northwestern city of Orumiyeh and several people were killed by chemical bombs dropped late Sunday on Marivan, 140 miles south, the agency said.
Iraqi warplanes tried to bomb Isfahan, in central Iran, on Monday but were driven off by anti-aircraft fire, IRNA reported.
The latest round of the war of the cities, in which thousands of civilians have been killed, began Feb. 29 and more than 300 missiles have been fired by both sides.
Baqer Karimian, head of Iran’s election commission, was quoted as saying the number of people voting in the Majlis election was 40 percent higher than in 1984 ″despite Iraqi air and missile attacks.″
According to IRNA, more than 14 million votes had been counted Moday but final results were not expected for several days. It said officials had declared winners in 160 of the 270 districts, but did not indicate who had won.
Western political analysts do not expect any change in the Majlis to hasten an end to the war. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the 87-year-old revolutionary patriarch, has vowed to continue fighting until President Saddam Hussein of Iraq is ousted.