Iraqi Missile Attacks Prompt Fear, Diplomatic Tensions

By Scott Hogenson | July 7, 2008 | 8:13 PM EDT

Kuwait City ( - Kuwait military officials said two Iraqi missiles were shot down as they entered Kuwait airspace Monday, forcing local residents to scramble for shelter.

A colonel with the Kuwaiti Defense Ministry said Patriot anti-missile batteries shot down the two Iraqi missiles and a third landed in an uninhabited part of the desert in northern Kuwait, causing no damage or injuries.

Officials also said a fourth missile was fired toward Kuwait from Iraq, but it did not enter Kuwait airspace. There was no information available about the nature of the warheads carried on any of the four missiles.

A series of air raid sirens sounded in Kuwait City around 1:00 p.m. Monday, forcing some to seek shelter in safe areas and don gas masks as a precaution against possible chemical or biological attack. Others ignored the sirens, which have become part of daily life here since the war started last week.

Since last Thursday, 10 Iraqi missiles have been fired at Kuwait, a key ally of the United States and host to some 250,000 coalition troops involved in the war against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The missile attacks were also creating friction for Kuwaiti diplomats attending an Arab League meeting in Cairo Monday.

Kuwait has submitted a proposal demanding that other Arab nations denounce the Iraqi missile attacks.

The Kuwaiti proposal runs counter to another Arab League proposal to condemn the coalition action in Iraq as an illegal attempt to occupy an Arab nation, the Arab Times reported Tuesday.

"Arab countries should condemn the Iraqi missile attacks on Kuwait," read a portion of the Kuwait proposal, while a competing Syrian statement called for "an immediate withdrawal of the American and British forces of aggression from Iraq," the paper reported.

Diplomats reportedly told an Egyptian news agency that Arab League officials will try to craft a statement that meets the demands of all members, but Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said Arab nations offering assistance to coalition forces are "stabbing the Iraqi people in the back."

The diplomatic tensions punctuate Kuwait's support for the U.S., which many credit for the country's liberation from Iraqi occupation in 1991 during the Gulf War.

While protests against the current war and American policy have dotted the Middle East, there have been no such demonstrations in Kuwait, where advertisements on Kuwait city buses proclaiming, "We will never forget," are commonplace.