Iraq Reportedly Attacks 14 Iranian Cities; 78 Die
Iraqi bombers and long-range missiles struck 14 cities in Iran on Friday where crowds were demonstrating in support of Palestinians, killing at least 78 people and wounding 326, the official Iranian news agency reported.
Tehran, the capital, was bombed twice in four hours, according to reports from both Persian Gulf countries. The strikes were among the heaviest launched by Iraq on a single day since war broke out between the two countries in September, 1980.
The Islamic Republic News Agency said Tehran and other cities were filled with “massive crowds” parading in observance of “International Jerusalem Day,” designated by Iran’s revolutionary patriarch, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, to show solidarity with Palestinians in Jerusalem.
Halt in Attacks Ordered
The attacks coincided with an announcement by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, that he had ordered a halt in the attacks on Iranian cities for two weeks beginning this morning.
The respite in the “war of the cities” is intended “to give your rulers the chance to consider peace, and to give you the chance to pressure them into accepting peace,” Hussein said in a message to Iran broadcast by Baghdad radio.
Iraq started attacking Iranian cities last March. After a seven-week lull, it resumed its attacks more intensively 17 days ago, trying to force Iran to the peace table.
Shortly before the Iraqi announcement, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati said in a speech in Tehran that “Iran will continue fighting until final victory,” the news agency reported. It said Velayati addressed a huge crowd jammed around the Tehran University campus.
Missiles and Planes
All the casualties were reported from Iranian cities hit by long-range, ground-to-ground missiles. But the news agency also said that Iraqi warplanes at the same time raided Tehran and other key cities.
Military communiques broadcast by Baghdad radio claimed the air raids and missile attacks on the Iranian cities were devastating.
Hussein’s cease-fire was accompanied by a five-point peace plan. It calls for a general cease-fire, withdrawal of the opposing armies to their own borders, an exchange of prisoners of war, negotiations to settle all differences and non-interference in each other’s affairs.
Iran has rejected all previous peace moves. It insists there can be no end to the war until Hussein is overthrown.