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Public Papers - 1991

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on Allied Bombing in Baghdad

1991-02-13

Last night, coalition forces bombed a military command and control center in Baghdad that, according to press reports, resulted in a number of civilian casualties.

The loss of civilian lives in time of war is a truly tragic consequence. It saddens everyone to know that innocent people may have died in the course of military conflict. America treats human life as our most precious value. That is why even during this military conflict in which the lives of our service men and women are at risk, we will not target civilian facilities. We will continue to hit only military targets. The bunker that was attacked last night was a military target, a command-and-control center that fed instructions directly to the Iraqi war machine, painted and camouflaged to avoid detection and well-documented as a military target. We have been systematically attacking these targets since the war began.

We don't know why civilians were at this location, but we do know that Saddam Hussein does not share our value in the sanctity of life. Indeed, he time and again has shown a willingness to sacrifice civilian lives and property that further his war aims.

Civilian hostages were moved in November and December to military sites for use as human shields. POW's reportedly have been placed at military sites. Roving bands of execution squads search out deserters among his own ranks of servicemen. Command and control centers in Iraq have been placed on top of schools and public buildings. Tanks and other artillery have been placed beside private homes and small villages. And only this morning we have documentation that two MIG 21's have been parked near the front door of a treasured archeologic site which dates back to the 27th century B.C.

His environmental terrorism spreads throughout the Persian Gulf, killing wildlife and threatening human water supplies. And finally, Saddam Hussein aims his Scud missiles at innocent civilians in Israel and Saudi Arabia. He kills civilians intentionally and with purpose.

Saddam Hussein created this war. He created the military bunkers. And he can bring the war to an end. We urge him once again to save his people and to comply with the U.N. resolutions.

Thank you very much.

Note: Press Secretary Fitzwater read the statement to reporters at 11:47 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House. The statement referred to President Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

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