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Air Force continues attacks on Iraqi regime, military

WASHINGTON -- A wide variety of Air Force aircraft played key roles in weekend missions designed to destroy Iraqi regime and military targets.

The latest -- the obliteration of an enemy aircraft on a desert airfield by AC-130 gunships -- was displayed via video for reporters at a U.S. Central Command press conference March 31 at the unit's forward headquarters in Qatar. Army Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, CENTCOM deputy operations officer, said the special operations aircraft have proven to be very effective weapon systems in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"We have used the gunships with great effectiveness against regime targets and also targets of opportunity," he said. "In this case, our special operations forces called in AC-130 gunships and destroyed the aircraft on the ground."

Among the other targets hit by coalition air forces over the weekend were Iraqi communication sites, including the state-run television system, which Brooks said has been an important target since the war began.

"We certainly have been doing things that would affect the possibility of Iraqi television coming on, and we will continue to do that," he said. "We think the domestic population has not seen much of the Iraqi regime, and we will continue our efforts to make sure that that is the case."

Coalition aircraft used satellite-guided munitions to target command and control facilities at the Abu Garayb presidential palace and two facilities at the Karada intelligence complex March 30.

Officials at the Combined Forces Air Component Command said the palace, located east of the Saddam International Airfield in western Baghdad, is one of the facilities used by the Saddam Hussein regime to command and control forces.

The Karada intelligence complex is located in the Karada District on the banks of the Tigris River in southern Baghdad. CFACC officials said it is one of the intelligence facilities used by Hussein's regime to direct military intelligence operations and to coordinate the oppression of internal opposition.

The successful missions demonstrate the absolute control of the sky enjoyed by coalition air forces, Brooks said. Responding to a reporter's question about Iraqi air forces and their lack of activity during the war, he said it all boils down to a very simple fact of life.

"If they fly, they die," he said. "It is as simple as that. We think that they know not to come up and fly against us, and certainly we are prepared to respond to that if they choose to. If they come up, we will destroy them, and if we find them (on the ground) we will destroy them."

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