Iraqi Kurdish Group: Saddam’s Forces Bomb Kurdish Villages
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Saddam Hussein’s forces bombed Kurdish villages in northern Iraq, damaging homes and killing livestock, an Iraqi Kurdish group said Thursday.
A statement from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said the Iraqi military shelled four Kurdish villages southwest of the regional capital of Irbil overnight Wednesday. Irbil lies 240 miles north of Baghdad.
In another offensive Wednesday morning near Irbil, Iraqi troops and tanks attacked two villages and detained nine people, the statement added.
The statement, released by the group’s Ankara offices, said there were no casualties. The report could not immediately be confirmed.
Some 3.5 million Iraqi Kurds set up a de-facto state in northern Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War. The United States and allied forces have been enforcing the no-fly zone to protect the Kurds from attacks from Baghdad.
The attacks came in the no-fly zone, but alliance officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
In the Jordanian capital of Amman, meanwhile, the brother-in-law of slain Iraqi defector Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel al-Majid vowed Thursday to continue the struggle to topple Saddam.
Maj. Izzeddine Mohammed Hassan al-Majid, who defected to Jordan last August with Hussein Kamel, said he could not confirm Iraqi opposition reports that his own wife and their three children were killed in an apparent purge of the family by Saddam. His wife Ilham is Hussein Kamel’s sister.
``I haven’t heard from them since they returned to Iraq and only God knows if they’re alive,″ he said.
He vowed that he will ``follow in the footsteps of Hussein Kamel to overthrow Saddam Hussein and I won’t abandon this aim, which I fled Baghdad to pursue.″
The former army officer, who once headed Saddam’s personal escort, said he has contacted dissident groups inside and outside Iraq and will soon be in touch with Arab governments to ``help save Iraq and its people from their misery.″
His wife and children returned to Iraq Feb. 20 with her brothers _ Hussein Kamel, Saddam Kamel and Hakim Kamel al-Majid _ after a six-month exile in Jordan.
According to the official Iraqi media, the three brothers, along with their father, were killed Friday by their own kinsmen for dishonoring their clan. But critics of the regime accuse Saddam and his sons, Odai and Qusai, of executing the defectors and their immediate relatives.
Al-Majid said his cousins left Jordan after Odai ``told them that a pardon had been issued″ by the Baath Party and the ruling Revolutionary Command Council, allowing them to return to Baghdad.
In Cairo, Egypt, King Hussein of Jordan met Iraqi opposition leaders as part of his to unite opposition groups.
Ali al-Saraf, a spokesman for the London-based Iraqi National Council, said the monarch held talks Wednesday night with Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and Muhsen Daza’i, a leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party.
King Hussein, who seemed to side with the Iraqi leader during the 1991 Gulf War, has in recent months urged change in Iraq. He has condemned the slayings of the al-Majid brothers but stopped short of calling for the overthrow of Saddam.