No-Fly Zone Warning Leaflets to Iraq

by: SGM Herbert A. Friedman (Ret.)

Note: This article was referenced several times is the British House of Commons 2003-2004 document “Defence – Third Report.” Portions of this article were featured in "Perspectives, the Journal of the Psychological Operations Association", Volume 15, Number 1, 2003. Portions of this article were also used in the report "USAF Psychological Operations, 1990-2003", by Dr. Daniel L. Haulman, 23 May 2003.

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In fall 2002, the United States of America began preparations for a second war against Iraq. Part of the strategy was to increase the number of flights over the so-called "no-fly" zones. These zones exist to protect the minority Kurds of the north and the Shiites of the south. The Iraqis were aware of the increased surveillance and met it by targeting Coalition aircraft with radar and occasionally firing anti-aircraft artillery or missiles toward the aircraft. This caused an interesting and escalating chain reaction. As the Iraqis fired on the aircraft, more aircraft dropped warning leaflets against such actions, which led to increased anti-aircraft fire. This led to the bombing of such sites and continued escalation.

By October 2002, there were 46 strikes by U.S.and British aircraft during the course of the year. Thirty-six of those were in the southern zone. The strikes increased, as it became clear that President Bush was considering ordering an invasion to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The Coalition had not dropped propaganda leaflets on Iraq since November 2001. However, on 3 October 2002 an American A10 "Warthog" fighter-bomber was fired upon by an Iraqi air defense command center in the "no-fly" zone in southern Iraq as it dropped 120,000 leaflets warning the Iraqi military and Baghdad against continuing to fire missiles and artillery at American and British jets.

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ADA1a

The front of the leaflet pictured a drawing of a warplane firing missiles at a radar site and anti-aircraft battery on the ground. Arabic text read, "Iraqi ADA Beware! Do not track or fire on Coalition aircraft!" The back of the leaflet was all text: "Attention Iraqi Air Defense. The destruction experienced by your colleagues in other air defense locations is a response to your continuing aggression toward planes of the coalition forces. No tracking or firing on these aircraft will be tolerated. You could be next." Due to the anti-aircraft fire against the A10, the Coalition bombed an air defense and operations center near Tallil, about 160 miles southeast of Baghdad.

There are at least three versions of this leaflet. The first version was probably an early experimental design and showed the jet, radar and SAM site as an outline drawing with no shading, texture, or depth. The rocket path appears as a single line. It is black and white. The propaganda text was directly over the illustration on this version, and the difficult in reading the message was probably the cause for rejection of the design.

The second version was nearly identical to the first as far as shading depth and texture, but the text is now in the clear areas at the top and bottom of the leaflet. This version was coded ADA1a, (also IZD-1a) and might have been the first leaflet dropped since it was illustrated on the official Central Command (CENTCOM) site, though without comment.

The final version of the leaflet illustrates the jet, radar, and SAM site with shading, depth and texture. The colors seem to have bluish and gray tinges and the rocket contrail is white. This is certainly the final version of the leaflet. It is unknown if it was dropped on the first raid, but it is definitely the one that was dropped on later air strikes. It is coded IZD006.

The front of the leaflet pictured a drawing of a warplane firing missiles at a radar site and anti-aircraft battery on the ground. Arabic text read, "Iraqi ADA Beware! Don't track or fire on Coalition aircraft!" The back of the leaflet was all text: "Attention Iraqi Air Defense. The destruction experienced by your colleagues in other air defense locations is a response to your continuing aggression toward planes of the coalition forces. No tracking or firing on these aircraft will be tolerated. You could be next."

It is interesting to see the difference between what the military states was the official message, and what the target audience actually read. An Iraqi translation of the leaflet reads, “Air Defense Forces be warned! Do not attack the Alliance’s forces and do not follow it with your radars. The destruction that fell upon your comrades in other air defense sites is the answer to your continued aggression against the Coalition forces. Do not follow or fire at the coalition forces or you will be the next target.” The leaflet was originally coded ADA1a, later versions IZD006. Due to the anti-aircraft fire against the A10, a strike was launched against an air defense and operations center near Tallil, about 160 miles southeast of Baghdad.

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Later version IZD006

On 28 October, Coalition aircraft again dropped warning leaflets over southern Iraq. The front of this full-color leaflet pictures an armed Iraqi soldier at the far right, while an anti-aircraft gun is in the background at the left. The artillery is firing at allied aircraft, the shells exploding far behind the jet fighter. The Arabic text above and below the vignette reads, "Before you engage coalition aircraft, think about the consequences." The back of the leaflet shows the face of soldier surrounded by smoke and debris from an allied bomb. At the lower right, a woman in a burqa holds two children. Text on the back reads, "Think about your family. Do what you must to survive." This leaflet is coded IZD1bd05.

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IZD1bd05.

The Coalition dropped a second full-color leaflet at the same time. There are three varieties of this leaflet. The only difference is the type of anti-aircraft weapon. In one leaflet, there are two versions of an artillery piece firing shells; in the second, it is a tracked vehicle firing missiles. In all cases the illustration at the right shows the Iraqi weapon firing at the Coalition aircraft and the word "If." The picture at the left shows the aircraft firing a missile at the Iraqi weapon and the word "Then," (in later documents the word is translated as "Reaction"). The back of the leaflet shows the Coalition jet flying overhead while there is nothing but smoke and debris left of the anti-aircraft weapon and the text "You decide."

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020-01Dd

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020-01Df

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Tracked vehicle firing missiles

In the first version of the artillery leaflet the cannon is closer to the foreground and the crew stand ready at their weapon. This leaflet is coded 020-01Dd. In the second variety of this same leaflet, the cannon is further away and a member of the crew flees before the Coalition rocket strikes the artillery piece. The second variety is coded 020-01Df. The code number of the leaflet showing the missile launcher is unknown.

The Coalition dropped 120,000 over the southern city of Al Basrah and 60,000 over As Samawah. Another 60,000 scheduled for As Samawah were not disseminated due to an aircraft malfunction.

The third PSYOP drop in six weeks was on 8 November, when Coalition planes scattered leaflets over southern Iraq, once again urging the Iraqis not to fire on American and British warplanes. The allies dropped the same two leaflets that were dropped on 28 October, "Think about your family" and the "If…Then" artillery piece leaflet. The aircraft reportedly dropped 240,000 leaflets around the town of Al Amarah, which is about 120 miles southeast of Baghdad.

The fourth leaflet mission occurred on 17 November when Coalition aircraft dropped 120,000 leaflets near the town of Ar Rumaythah in southern Iraq. Once again, the "Iraqi ADA Beware!" and the "If…Then" leaflet were disseminated. The Iraqis responded with anti-aircraft fire, which led directly to the bombing of sites near the city of Mosul.

On 28 November, Coalition aircraft dropped 360,000 leaflets on a communications site between Al Kut and Al Basrah in southern Iraq. This site had been attacked a week earlier on 22 November. The Coalition dropped three different leaflets. One leaflet pictured three American F16 "fighting Falcons" bombing fiber optic cables on the ground. The explosion and crater are illustrated. The next picture shows a truck bearing an Iraqi eagle symbol nearing the crater to repair the fiber optic cables. The same three F16s now drop bombs aimed directly at the repair truck. Text on the front of the leaflet is, "Military fiber optic cables have been targeted for destruction. Repairing them places your life at risk.” The back of the leaflet shows a caricature of Saddam Hussein holding a map of Iraq and the text, "Military fiber optic cables are tools used by Saddam and his regime to suppress the Iraqi people." The leaflet is coded IZD011a.

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IZD011a.

The second full-color leaflet shows American F-16 fighters launching bombs over Iraq and the text, "Coalition Air Power can strike at will. Any time. Any place." Text on the back of the leaflet is "Coalition air power enforces the No-Fly Zones to protect the Iraqi people. Threatening these Coalition aircraft has a consequence. The attacks may destroy you or any location of Coalition choosing. Will it be you or your brother? You decide." This leaflet is coded 020-20D.

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020-20D

The third full-color leaflet shows F16s leaving the scene after bombing fiber optic cable on the ground. An arrow points to the cable with the text, "Military Fiber Optic cable." The back is all text and states, "For your safety. Stop repairing military fiber optic cable. You are risking your life. The cables are tools used to suppress the Iraqi people by Saddam and his regime, they are targeted for destruction." This leaflet is coded IZD009.

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IZD009

The same three leaflets were dropped on 2 December by Operation Southern Watch aircraft over communication facilities located between Al Kut and An Nasiriyah, approximately 100-150 miles southeast of Baghdad in Southern Iraq. These sites had been bombed the previous day. The Coalition dropped 240,000 leaflets, 60,000 leaflets each in four fiberglass leaflet bombs. This was the sixth Coalition leaflet drop in two months. The aircraft flew from the Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey.

At 0400 on 16 December, Coalition aircraft dropped 480,000 leaflets over six different locations in southern Iraq. There were six different leaflets. Four of the leaflets had been dropped on earlier raids. They are the “Iraqi ADA Beware…” (IZD006), “Coalition Airpower…” (020-20D), “Before you engage…” (IZD1bd05), and “Military Fiber Optic cables…” (IZD011a).

The Coalition dropped two new leaflets. The first new full-color leaflet is very similar to the “Military Fiber Optic…” (IZD011a) leaflet dropped on 28 November. In fact, the back is identical. The front now shows a truck and a bulldozer about to repair destroyed fiber optic cable as three F-16s drop bombs on the site. Once again the text is “Military fiber optic cables have been targeted for destruction. Repairing them places your life at risk.” Once again, a small arrow points to a broken cable with the text “Military Fiber Optic cable.” This leaflet is coded IZD0010a.

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IZD0010a

The second new leaflet pictures a map of Iraq and two radio transmitters. This “Information Radio” leaflet lists five frequencies that the Iraqi people can listen to between the hours of 1800 and 2300 daily to hear Coalition broadcasts. The frequencies are 756 KHZ AM, 693 KHZ AM, 9715 KHZ SW, 11292 KHZ SW, and 100.4 MHZ FM. The same message appears on both front and back. This leaflet is coded IZD001. These broadcasts began 12 December.

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IZD001

The Coalition broadcast the usual Arabic music and news, and messages aimed at dividing the Iraqi people and military from Saddam Hussein. One message, broadcast from a United States Air Force EC-130E Commando Solo aircraft flying over Iraq said, “Saddam has built palace after palace for himself and has purchased a fleet of luxury cars all at the expense of the Iraqi people. This money would be much better suited to build libraries and schools. This money would have gone a long way to provide better food and medicine for the people of Iraq. The amount of money Saddam spends on himself in one day would be more than enough to feed a family for a year.

On 21 December, Coalition forces dropped leaflets on southern Iraq for the eighth time in three months. The leaflet drop occurred between 0430 and 5000 over Al Amarah and As Samawah. Aircraft dropped 240,000 copies of the “Information Radio” leaflet (IZD001) over the two locations.

On 23 December, Coalition aircraft dropped 120,000 of the same Information Radio leaflets (IZD001) over Ash Shatrah and another 120,000 leaflets over Ar Rifai, approximately 140 miles southeast of Baghdad. The drop occurred at approximately 0430.

It is interesting to chart the continued dropping of leaflets on a map of Iraq. The first nine drops all occur in a 200-mile diameter circle to the southeast of Baghdad. One wonders if this is the psychological preparation of the battlefield where the eventual ground attack is to be staged, or simply the scene of the most aggressive Iraqi targeting of aircraft

A tenth leaflet mission was successfully completed on December 27. Coalition aircraft disseminated the "Information Radio" leaflet (IZD001) at approximately 0630 on three separate sites in southern Iraq; an area south of Ad Diwaniyah, Ar Rumaythah, and Qawam Al Hamzah. The aircraft dropped 240,000 leaflets.

Coalition aircraft dropped the same "Information Radio" leaflet (IZD001) again on December 28 at approximately 0800. The towns of Al Majarr al Kabir and Qal At Sukkar were targeted. 120,000 leaflets were dropped over each town.

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IZD002

On 2 January, Coalition aircraft leafleted Iraq for the twelfth time in three months. At about 0515 the aircraft distributed a newly designed full-color "Information Radio" leaflet over Al Basrah and An Nasiriyah in the southeastern corner of Iraq. This leaflet depicts a radio tower in the center and small portable radios to the left and right. The text is the same as the previous radio leaflet IZD001. The text is "Information Radio 1800-2300 daily. 756 KHZ AM, 693 KHZ AM, 9715 KHZ SW, 11292 KHZ SW, 100.4 MHZ FM."

The same message appears on both front and back. The leaflet bears the same design as one dropped over Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002 (AFD06). However, the Afghan leaflet is gray with black text. The full color no-fly leaflet to Iraq is coded IZD002. A total of 480,000 leaflets were dropped.

The thirteenth leaflet mission of the "No-fly" campaign was flown over southeastern Iraq on 4 January at approximately 0615. Coalition aircraft dropped 240,000 of the new "Information radio" leaflets (IZD002) over Al Amarah and As Samawah.

Propaganda leaflets and radio broadcasts were not the only media used to send messages to the people of Iraq. About 11 January, the U.S. Military began an e-mail campaign urging military and civilian leaders in Iraq to abandon Saddam Hussein. Iraqi authorities blocked the incoming e-mails in an apparent attempt to stop the messages from spreading throughout the country. One of the messages was:

"If you provide information on weapons of mass destruction or if you takes steps to hamper their use, we will do whatever is necessary to protect you and protect your families. Failing to do that will lead to grave personal consequences."

"If you took part in the use of these ugly weapons, you will be regarded as war criminals. If you can make these weapons ineffective. Then do so. If you can identify the position of weapons of mass destruction by light signals, then do so. If all this is not possible, then at least refuse to take part in any activity or follow orders to use weapons of mass destruction."

"Iraqi chemical, biological and nuclear weapons violate Iraq's commitment to agreements and United Nations resolutions. Iraq has been isolated because of this behavior. The United States and its allies want the Iraqi people to be liberated from Saddam's injustice and for Iraq to become a respected member of the international community. Iraq's future depends on you."

The fourteenth leaflet mission was flown by Coalition forces on 13 January. Aircraft dropped 240,000 "Information Radio" leaflets about 0710 over An Najaf. An Najaf features a number of Shiite Moslem shrines including the golden-domed shrine of Ali.

Coalition aircraft dropped the "Information Radio" leaflet (IZD002) over Al Kut on 18 January at approximately 0345. The fourth PSYOP mission of 2003 consisted of 180,000 leaflets.

Coalition forces dropped 360,000 "Information Radio" leaflets over six different cities in Southern Iraq at 0716 on 19 January. Ar Rumaythah, Qawam Al Hamzah, Ash Shatrah, Ar Rifai, Qal at Sukkar and Al Majarr were targeted.

With the invasion of Iraq being forecast for just weeks away, on 23 Jan at approximately 1230 Coalition aircraft dropped 240,000 leaflets over a communication facility near Al Amarah. The leaflets, IZD009 and IZD011a warned the Iraqis not to repair fiber optic cables.

CBS News "Eye on America" broadcast a short television report on PSYOP on 23 January. The segment pictured M129 leaflet bombs being filled with rolls of the no-fly zone leaflets. The commentator discussed the accuracy with which these leaflets could be disseminated and stated that over three million warning leaflets had been dropped on Iraq as of that date.

Coalition forces dropped the "Information Radio" leaflet (IZD002) on 24 January at approximately 0715 over communication facilities near An Najaf. At the same time they leafleted Umm Qasr and Az Zubayr, both located on the Al Faw Peninsula, the part of Iraq closest to the Persian Gulf. The Coalition aircraft dropped a total of 360,000 leaflets.

Saddam Hussein commented on the alleged futility of the Coalition leaflet campaign during a 27 January speech to senior army officers. Iraqi state television broadcast excerpts of the meeting. Saddam stated, "The enemies think that people are eager to read their leaflets..." and "Your brothers among the people and the armed forces stage what resembles a ceremony after collecting and burning these leaflets...." History indicates that when a nation publicly attacks psychological operations it is a sign that the propaganda is effective.

Five different leaflets were included in the 480,000 dropped over southern Iraq by Coalition aircraft on January 30 at 1145. Targeted were the towns of An Nasiriyah, As Samawah, Qal At Sukkar, Al Basrah, and Umm Qasr. Four of the leaflets had been previously distributed, the military fiber optic cables…(IZD011a), military fiber optic cables (IZD010a), Coalition air power…(020-20D), and Information radio…(IZD001).

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IZD027

The one new leaflet is coded IZD027 and warns the people of Iraq to stay away from sites where Saddam Hussein might hide military vehicles and personnel. School children visit the Shaheed (Martyr’s Monument) at the front-right of the full-color leaflet. This quarter-billion dollar blue-tile monument commemorates the Iraqi dead in the Iraq-Iran war. At the left of the leaflet, Coalition jets are shown firing rockets at Iraqi tanks hiding near the monument. Text on the back of the leaflet is "Coalition forces do not wish to harm the noble people of Iraq. To insure your safety, avoid areas occupied by military personnel." Coalition aircraft dropped similar leaflets showing Iraqi weapons hiding near mosques and in schoolyards during the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991.

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IZD003

Coalition aircraft flew PSYOP missions for the second straight day when 360,000 leaflets were dropped over Al Kut about 0230 on 31 January. Two leaflets were dropped. Besides the first information radio leaflet (IZD001), U.S. aircraft also dropped a third variety of the radio leaflet (IZD003). This new full-color leaflet depicts a radio antennae at the left and the CENTCOM stations and frequencies in the center. The right of the leaflet pictures a map of Iraq. As in all the radio leaflets, the front and back are identical.

At 1330 on the same day Coalition aircraft dropped another 840,000 leaflets in and around An Nasiriyah, Al Amarah, and Al Basrah. In all, seven different leaflets were dropped, "For your safety..." (IZD-009), "Military fiber optic cables..." (IZD-010a and IZD-011a), "Coalition air power..." (020-20D), "Information radio..." (IZD-001 and IZD-003), and "Coalition forces do not wish..." (IZD-027). This was by far the most significant day of the PSYOP campaign with 1,200,000 leaflets dropped over four locations in southern Iraq within eleven hours.

The Coalition dropped 360,000 leaflets near Al Amarah and Ar Rumaylah at 0110 on 1 February. They dropped three different leaflets, all "fiber optic cables" varieties, (IZD-009, IZD-010a, and IZD-011a). This was the 12th leaflet drop by Coalition aircraft in 2003 and the 23rd since the Coalition began leaflet drops in October 2002.

Coalition aircraft dropped 420,000 leaflets over several locations near Al Hayy at 0200 on 2 February. The leaflets mix was made up of "Military fiber optic cables...' (IZD-009A, IZD-010a, and IZD-011a), "Coalition air power..." (020-20D), and "Coalition forces do not wish..." (IZD-027).

The official CENTCOM site stated that a radio leaflet was also dropped but it was not identified. Kut Al Hayy Airbase is served by one main runway measuring 9,800 feet and has hardened aircraft shelters at each end of the runway.

On 6 Feb Coalition aircraft dropped leaflets at approximately 0230 near Al Basrah, Az Zubayr, Umm Qasr and An Nasiriyah. The Coalition dropped a total of 480,000 leaflets. The leaflet mix consisted of the "Information radio..." (IZD001) and the "Coalition forces do not wish..." (IZD027).

Coalition aircraft dropped 480,000 leaflets at 0500 on 8 February near An Nu'maniyah, Al Kut, Al Amarah and Al Qurnah. Like the drop of 6 February, the mix consisted of the "Information radio..." (IZD-001) and the "Coalition forces do not wish..." (IZD027) leaflets.

The Reuters News Service reported 10 February that the Coalition had prepared a highly classified leaflet that warns ship owners of confiscation of their vessel if they attempt to help Iraqi leaders to escape.

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IZD048

The front of the leaflet depicts an allied warship near an Iraqi ship. The text is, "Do not aid Iraqi military and regime leadership attempting to escape." The back bears the warning, "The Coalition is here to block the escape of the Iraqi leaders attempting to flee. If you harbor, aid or assist these individuals you risk the confiscation of your vessel and endanger yourself and your crew. If you observe defectors, report it to Coalition forces. DO NOT LET SADDAM'S REGIME ESCAPE JUSTICE."

The Coalition did not disseminate this leaflet prior to the actual start of the war. Purloined copies surfaced in Manama, the capital of Bahrain and home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Coalition aircraft increased the psychological pressure on 12 February with a massive drop of 480,000 leaflets over central and southern Iraq. Separate missions dropped leaflets over Al Hillah, Al Qasim, Madhatiyah, Al Hashimiyah at 0325, and Safwan, Al Basrah and Az Zubayr at 0600. There were five leaflets in the mix. Among those dropped previously were the "Information Radio…" (IZD001), "Coalition forces do not wish…" (IZD027), "Coalition air power…" (020-20D) and the "Iraqi ADA beware…" (IZD006).

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IZD028

The aircraft dropped one new leaflet. American PSYOP routinely depicts heavy bombers as a military threat. No such leaflet had been prepared so far in this campaign. The new leaflet shows an ominous parked B-52 Stratofortress with a full load of bombs displayed on the ground. Bombs frame the photograph at the left and right. The text is, “Attacking Coalition aircraft invites your destruction.” The back of the full-color leaflet shows a "smart bomb" falling through the air and the text, “Do not fire at Coalition aircraft. If you choose to fire, you will be destroyed. Coalition forces will attack you with overwhelming force. The choice is yours.” The B52 is a 50-year old bomber first flown in 1952. The “H” model flies current missions. It can carry up to 108 conventional bombs, 84 internally and 24 under the wings. 

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IZD028a

There is a second version of this leaflet coded IZD028a. This leaflet is almost identical except that instead of a parked B52 bomber on the front, an AC-130 Hercules "Spooky" Gunship is depicted firing tracer rounds forward. All the other features, including the texts, "Attacking Coalition aircraft invites your destruction," and "Do not fire at Coalition aircraft…" is identical to IZD028.

On the same date the Pentagon announced that over 150,000 reservists had been activated for service. This is the biggest call-up since 265,000 were mobilized during the 1991 Gulf War. U.S. troops, both regular and reservists, now number more than 130,000 in the gulf region. Nearly half are in Kuwait, neighboring Iraq. The Navy will have six or seven aircraft carriers within striking distance of Iraq by the end of February. By the latter part of February the size of the U.S. force is likely to exceed 200,000 troops. The dark of the moon will be 3 March, perfect flying weather for stealth aircraft.

USA Today reported on 13 February that naval aircraft of the aircraft carrier USS Constellation were dropping leaflets over Iraq in retrofitted Vietnam-era cluster bombs refitted with fiberglass canisters. Leaflets were identified that warned Iraqis not to use biological or chemical weapons and warning Iraqis that Saddam will attempt to poison the environment and ruin their livelihood by dumping oil. These leaflets are unknown. We assume that reporters on the Constellation saw them.

On 14 February, Operation Southern Watch aircraft dropped 360,000 leaflets over Shalhah, Al Qurnah, and Al Madina at about 1400 in a daylight raid. The aircraft dropped three leaflets, all information radio types (IZD001, IZD002 and IZD003).

Coalition aircraft dropped 180,000 information radio leaflets (IZD001) at 0345 on 23 February. The leaflet drop occurred on and around the Al Faw Peninsula near Umm Qasr, Safwan and Al Faw. At the same time, the United States escalated the pressure on Iraq by announcing that B-52 Stratofortress bombers conducted the first in a number of planned training missions in the North Arabian Gulf region. B52s were used extensively with great effect against massed Iraqi Army divisions stationed along the Kuwaiti-Saudi border during the Persian Gulf War.

The Coalition escalated the PSYOP campaign on 24 February when they dropped a mix of eight leaflets on five areas in southern Iraq. The operation commenced at 0500 and targeted locations near Al Kut, Az Zubayr, the Qalat Salih airbase, Salman Az Azhir and Al Basrah.

For the first time, three of the leaflets mentioned "weapons of mass destruction." Although the current air operations against Iraq are based on the belief that Iraq continues to build and conceal such weapons, no propaganda leaflet mentioned this term before 24 February. The Coalition informed Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War that any use of such weapons would lead to immediate retaliation. This is the first time such threats have appeared in print, although the leaflets do not mention retaliation in kind.

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