Iraq Bombs 14 Iranian Cities, Promises Two-Week Ceasefire
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Iraqi bombers and long-range missiles struck 14 cities in Iran Friday where crowds were demonstrating in support of Palestinians, killing at least 78 people and wounding 326, the official Iranian news agency reported.
The sound of exploding bombs and missiles in Tehran, the Iranian capital, and other cities was drowned by crowds chanting ″War, war until victory 3/8″ according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.
Tehran was bombed twice in four hours, according to reports from both Persian Gulf countries.The strikes were among the heaviest launched by Iraq on one day since war broke out between the two countries in September 1980.
IRNA said that Tehran and other cities were filled with ″massive crowds″ parading in observance of ″International Jerusalem Day,″ designated by revolutionary patriarch Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to show solidarity with Palestinians in Jerusalem.
The attacks coincided with an announcement by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, that he had ordered a halt of attacks against Iranian cities for two weeks beginning 8 a.m. Saturday.
The respite in the ″war of the cities″ was intended ″to give your rulers the chance to consider peace, and to give you the chance to pressure them into accepting peace,″ Hussein said in a message Iran broadcast by Baghdad radio.
Iraq started attacking Iranian cities last March. After a seven-week lull, it resumed its attacks more intensively 17 days ago trying to force Iran to the peace table.
Shortly before the Iraqi announcement, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati said in a speech in Tehran that ″Iran will continue fighting until final victory,″ IRNA reported.
IRNA said Velayati was addressing 5 million people jammed around the Tehran University campus.
All the casualties were reported from Iranian cities hit by long-range ground-to-ground missiles. IRNA said the cities were: Andimeshk, Masjid Suleiman, Ramhormoz, Dezful, Bakhtaran, Islamabad-e-gharb, Khorramabad, Nahavard and Boroujerd.
IRNA said Iraqi warplanes at the same time raided Tehran and the cities of Qazvin, Isfahan, Kashan and Hamadan.
Military communiques broadcast by Baghdad radio claimed the raids and missile attacks on the Iranian cities were ″devastating.″
Hussein’s cease-fire was accompanied by a five-point peace plan. It called for a general cease-fire, withdrawal of the opposing armies to their own borders, an exchange of prisoners of war, negotiations to settle all differences and non-interference in each other’s affairs.
Iran has rejected all previous peace moves. It insists there can be no end to the war until Hussein is overthrown.