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Iraq Jets Hit Tanker, 3 Iran Oil Centers, Air Base : Sirri Island Facility Reportedly Burning After Long-Range Bombing Mission

October 11, 1987|Associated Press

MANAMA, Bahrain — Iraqi jets hit a tanker, three mainland Iranian oil centers and an air base Saturday in the Persian Gulf.

Shipping sources also reported that oil installations on Iran's Sirri Island, in the southern gulf, were on fire at nightfall, apparently after a long-range Iraqi air raid.

Iraqi war communiques monitored in Cyprus made no mention of a raid on Sirri, about 350 miles southeast of Iran's main oil terminal at Kharg Island. Sirri was the target of the Iraqi air force's first long-range bombing mission in the gulf in August, 1986, and has been hit at least twice since then.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said six Iraqi warplanes were sighted heading south toward Sirri.

A U.S. official said four wounded Iranians captured after the Thursday night clash between American helicopters and Iranian patrol boats in the northern gulf will be offered political asylum as soon as their condition permits.

The four Iranians, believed to be members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, were hospitalized aboard the transport ship Raleigh. At least two underwent surgery for wounds suffered in the attack. Two others died after being rescued, the Pentagon said.

The State Department confirmed that the four would be asked if they wanted to become "political refugees" rather than return to Iran. It said those who want to go home will be repatriated through the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Twenty-six Iranians detained after U.S. forces captured the Iranian minelayer Iran Ajr on Sept. 21 were not offered asylum, and all went back to Iran.

Iraq said it attacked three mainland Iranian oil facilities and a "large naval target," its usual term for a tanker, off the Iranian coast. The Iraqis have been mounting almost daily air raids since Aug. 29 in a campaign to disrupt the oil industry that finances Tehran's war effort.

"By such strikes, the Iranian rulers will certainly realize that prolonging the war means nothing but further destruction and ruin for their regime," said a military communique quoted by Iraq's official news agency and monitored in Cyprus.

Iraq said other targets hit Saturday were the Bed Boland oil production complex, the Ahvaz oil fields and a pumping station at Tanki Feni, all in Iran's southwestern Khuzestan province.

The raids set the installations ablaze, the news agency said.

Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency, also monitored in Cyprus, said that more than 50 workers were killed or wounded when the Iraqi planes hit industrial targets in Khuzestan.

The Iraqi news agency later reported that Iraqi jets bombed the Dehloran air base in western Iran, "scoring destructive hits and leaving their targets rocked by explosions."

Iraq said all of its aircraft returned safely Saturday.

Baghdad also said that a loud explosion that rocked the Iraqi capital before dawn Saturday was the result of an accident at an ammunition depot.

Residents in several parts of the city of 4 million reported being jolted awake by what sounded like a long-range missile exploding. But Iran, which in the past has announced its missile attacks, did not claim to have launched one.

Meanwhile, gulf-based shipping sources said two of the Kuwaiti tankers registered in July under the U.S. flag were moored outside the Strait of Hormuz, preparing for the next northbound convoy under U.S. Navy escort to Kuwait.

There was no indication of when the ships will leave, the sources said.

The tankers were identified as the 81,283-ton Sea Isle City and the 46,723-ton Gas King.

The United States agreed to reflag and escort 11 Kuwaiti tankers to protect them from Iranian attack. Tehran considers Kuwait an ally of Iraq in the seven-year-old gulf war.

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