Iraq downplays its losses

Iraq claimed to have sunk seven ''enemy naval targets'' at the head of the Gulf Thursday, Reuters reports. The claim has not been confirmed. In Paris, meanwhile, Iraqi and French officials insist that Iraq has succeeded in blunting the main thrust of Iran's latest offensive despite the loss of a major oilfield, reports Monitor contributor William Echikson. Yet the situation remains worrying for Baghdad.

''The entire Iranian society is mobilizing for this war,'' a French official says. ''It's not certain that the Iraqis can hold out indefinitely. I won't make any predictions of what is going to happen in the future.''

Taha Yasin Ramadan, Iraq's first deputy prime minister, has been in Paris this week to renegotiate his country's debts. France, Iraq's main arms supplier, agreed Wednesday to refinance Iraq's l984 debts by providing credits of about $ 500 million. French officials add, however, that no new arms deals were negotiated.

''The Iranians tried to develop several fronts at the same time and this has put them in trouble,'' one French official says. Iraq's admission that it lost some territory in the southeast of the country, including the oilfield of Majnoon, is being downplayed here. Vice-President Ramadan insisted at a press conference that ''if Iranian forces have advanced into Iraq, it's because we have let them advance into a marshy area where they will get bogged down.''

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