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Coalition aircraft flew more than 1,500 sorties over Iraq

WASHINGTON -- Coalition aircraft flew more than 1,500 sorties in the continuing air war against the regime in Iraq on March 24, coalition officials in the region said today.

More than 800 were strike sorties, with 200 of those being flown against "preplanned" targets. The rest were flown against "emerging targets" -- targets of opportunity.

Coalition aircraft strike to suppress ballistic missile threats, to degrade Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard units, to support special operations forces and to strike targets of opportunity as they arise, U.S. Central Command officials said.

Coalition air operations are aimed at the regime of Saddam Hussein and not against the Iraqi people, officials stressed.

They said specific targets in and around Baghdad include the government control center, the offices of the Special Security Organizations, the headquarters of the Special Republican Guards and the Iraqi Intelligence Service.

Unsung heroes in the war are the flying gas stations, according to Air Force officials, who say that "no bomb gets dropped without refueling." The tankers fly about 15 percent of the total sorties; aerial refueling allows strike aircraft to race in at high speed and get back to base safely.

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