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March 21, 2003
 
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Iraq Denies Torching Oil Wells -State TV

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq on Saturday denied torching oil wells, saying instead that it had set oil-filled trenches ablaze in an effort to prevent U.S. and British warplanes from finding their targets.

"The leadership in Iraq and the government organizations are keen to preserve this wealth, developing and expanding its capability and not burning it," Iraqi state television said in a statement attributed to an "authorized source."

"What was set on fire was oil moved to trenches prepared to place hurdles that would affect the accuracy of pilots in hitting targets."

Britain's defense chief said on Friday that Iraq had set seven oil wells alight -- and not 30 as earlier reported -- and that U.S. and British forces were securing key components of the country's southern oil fields.

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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