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Fox TV Reports Oil Wells Burning Outside of Basra
Thu March 20, 2003 11:04 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Oil wells were burning outside of the Iraqi city of Basra, the Fox News television network reported on Thursday. The Iraqi Oil Minister denied the reports.

The network gave no further details of the report that came just hours after President Bush unleashed a war to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with dawn air strikes on Baghdad.

Iraqi Oil Minister Amir Muhammed Rasheed denied the reports the oil wells were on fire near the southern Iraqi city.

Kuwait television also reported that several oil wells near Basra had been set alight by Iraqi troops, while Iranian media have reported U.S. jets bombing these oilfields.

"This report that was given to you is a film from the American gangs and is misleading and prejudiced," Rasheed told Reuters in a statement from his Baghdad office.

The reports from Iran and Kuwait, which have both waged war against Iraq, were not independently confirmed by Reuters.

Iraqi state-run media has made no mention of any oil well fires in Basra.

A U.S. official said earlier this month that Iraq had placed explosives at the Kirkuk oilfields in northern Iraq to prevent them being taken over in the event of a U.S. invasion.

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