Iraqi jets hit crucial Iranian oil terminal

Iraqi jets flew over the Persian Gulf war zone yesterday. They attacked six targets in western Iran. And for the first time in the six-year-old war, Iraqi jets flew 1,560 miles, round trip, to attack Iran's Larak Island oil terminal at the mouth of the Gulf. In a separate incident, unidentified aircraft - said by Iran to have been Iraqi - fired missiles at a rig in an offshore oilfield of the United Arab Emirates. At least five workers were killed, including two Frenchmen, an Indian, and a Pakistani.

Larak is crucial to Iran's export strategy, which relies on tankers to shuttle oil down the Persian Gulf to terminals at or near its mouth.

Analysts said the distance flown suggested that the Iraqi jets may have been refueled in the air. The Larak Island installations were thought to be out of Iraqi range until Aug. 12, when a devastating raid on Sirri Island, some 110 nautical miles farther inside the Gulf, forced the Iran to shift its operations to Larak.

Since the stepped-up Iraqi raids in August, Iranian oil exports have been significantly reduced.

The council of ministers of the United Arab Emirates, at the mouth of the Gulf, are scheduled to meet today to ``discuss this unjust attack and take suitable measures,'' according to an official statement released in Abu Dhabi.

Gulf shipping sources said that two Cypriot-registered supertankers were on fire at Larak, and an Iranian tanker had also been hit.

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