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DATE=1/5/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-243785 TITLE=U-S IRAQ ATTACK (L) BYLINE=JIM RANDLE DATELINE=PENTAGON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: AMERICAN AND IRAQI PLANES HAVE CLASHED OVER SOUTHERN IRAQ, AND U-S OFFICIALS SAY AND ONE IRAQI PLANE MAY HAVE BEEN SHOT DOWN. V-O-A PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT JIM RANDLE REPORTS THIS IS THE FIRST TIME U-S AND IRAQI WARPLANES HAVE FIRED AT EACH OTHER SINCE 1992. TEXT: A SENIOR U-S DEFENSE OFFICIAL SAYS FOUR AMERICAN WARPLANES ENCOUNTERED AT LEAST TWO IRAQI AIRCRAFT IN THE SOUTHERN 'NO-FLY ZONE' AND FIRED AIR-TO-AIR MISSILES AT THEM. THE U-S OFFICIAL SAYS ONE IRAQI PLANE MAY HAVE BEEN SHOT DOWN, BUT THAT HAS NOT BEEN CONFIRMED YET. ALL OF THE AMERICAN PLANES RETURNED SAFELY TO THEIR BASES. THE OFFICIAL SAYS THE U-S PLANES INCLUDED F-14 FIGHTERS FROM THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER 'U-S-S CARL VINSON,' AS WELL AS LAND-BASED F-15'S. THE IRAQI PLANES WERE JETS, BUT OFFICIALS ARE NOT YET CERTAIN WHAT TYPE. IRAQI FORCES HAVE CHALLENGED U-S AND BRITISH WARPLANES TWICE IN RECENT WEEKS, LAUNCHING ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILES AT THEM AS THEY PATROLLED OVER IRAQ. THE ALLIED AIRCRAFT RESPONDED WITH BOMBS AND MISSILES ON THOSE OCCASIONS. AT LEAST FOUR IRAQI SOLDIERS WERE KILLED AND OTHERS WERE INJURED. TUESDAY'S FIGHT OCCURRED IN THE SOUTHERN 'NO-FLY ZONE,' WHICH WAS SET UP AFTER THE GULF WAR TO PROTECT SHIITE MUSLIMS FROM AIR ATTACK BY BAGHDAD'S FORCES. U-S AND BRITISH PLANES ALSO PATROL A 'NO-FLY ZONE' IN NORTHERN IRAQ DESIGNED TO PROTECT THE MINORITY KURD POPULATION THERE. PENTAGON OFFICIALS SAY IRAQI PLANES OFTEN DART INTO THE NO-FLY ZONES TO TEST ALLIED PATROLS, BUT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IRAQI AND AMERICAN PLANES HAVE FIRED AT EACH OTHER SINCE 1992, WHEN A U-S F-16 DOWNED AN IRAQI MIG-25. (SIGNED). NEB/JR/RRM 05-Jan-99 11:21 AM EST (1621 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .