BEIRUT — Iran said its warplanes bombed military and economic targets in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad today but later promised to halt attacks on civilian targets after an appeal from U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar.
"This is only the beginning," said Iran's official news agency, IRNA, of the raids directed at Baghdad, which it had not attacked since early 1983.
Iraq denied that the Iranians hit Baghdad proper but made no comment on the U.N. appeal.
IRNA quoted a message sent by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati to Perez de Cuellar as saying Iran would halt its attacks on civilian targets at midnight tonight.
"Iran accepts your excellency's proposal to halt these attacks," the message said, hours after a senior Iraqi official said he was willing to go to the United Nations in a bid to halt the raids.
"It is important to note that the Islamic Republic of Iran reserves the right to retaliate with full force if the Iraqi regime opposes your excellency's proposal and continues attacks on non-military and residential areas," the message said.
Perez de Cuellar has appealed several times for adherence to an 8-month-old agreement, brokered by the United Nations, to spare civilians. The agreement broke down last Tuesday, prompting both sides to bomb, shell and launch missiles against residential areas.
A military spokesman in Baghdad said Iranian warplanes "infiltrated across the Iran-Iraq border today and hit an area 19 miles away from the Iraqi capital." Baghdad is more than 100 miles from the border with Iran.
The Iraqi spokesman said Iranian jets tried to break through to Baghdad but Iraqi aircraft intercepted them "which forced them to hit the area of Fudailyeh between the provinces of Baghdad and Dayaly, 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the capital."
The spokesman said three children were wounded in the Iranian air strikes and also said Iranian artillery fire had struck the southern port of Basra.
Iran said earlier that its warplanes bombed Baghdad and four frontier towns, and that its fighters chased two Iraqi warplanes on a mission to hit Tehran.