LONDON, JAN. 21 -- Kurdish rebels in Iraq said today they believe allied air raids killed or wounded nearly 4,000 Iraqi military personnel in the first three days of the gulf conflict.
In one of the few independent assessments of the impact of the air war, the Kurdistan Democratic Party said the allies had inflicted extensive damage to the heartland of Iraq's military-industrial complex in the suburbs of Baghdad and in a strip of northern Iraq between Mosul, Kirkuk and Takrit. It issued a list of air bases, barracks, arms plants and other facilities it said had been damaged in air raids.
Meanwhile, British defense officials told reporters that some of the storage bunkers and production facilities for Iraq's arsenal of chemical weapons were still operating five days after the air offensive had begun. The sources said the sheer size of these production and storage facilities made it difficult to hit them all in the first days of the war. One facility, which the officials did not identify, was said to cover about 12 by 18 miles -- the size of Paris.
The Kurdish group said it believed "a few dozen" civilians had been killed or injured, many in areas around Baghdad. "I'm sure the numbers are much, much higher, but we don't have firm reports," said Hoshyar Zebari, the KDP's London spokesman. "My sense is that the situation is on the verge of collapse. People are fleeing the cities in panic."
Information on the damage done to Iraq in the war has been sketchy and disseminated almost entirely by the allied command or Iraq. The KDP, which says it has agents and intelligence gatherers throughout the country, has offered what analysts believe is generally reliable information during the gulf crisis.
Zebari said thousands of Iraqis had defied military orders and checkpoints and fled Iraq's major cities. Many were heading toward the country's borders with Iran, Turkey, Syria and Jordan while others had taken refuge in Kurdish areas of northern Iraq, which so far had suffered limited damage, he said.
Other Iraqi dissidents reported widespread damage from allied bombing raids in Basra, where many civilians are still living in temporary shelters put up during the Iran-Iraq War.
The KDP list of targets hit included:
In Baghdad: the presidential palace; the Baath Party regional command headquarters in Alawiehella; the Defense Ministry and military command in Maydan; the communications center in Karkh, on the west bank of the Tigris; and intelligence headquarters in Mansour, a wealthy section of the city.
Three airports in Baghdad: Muthana, Rashied and the military section of Saddam International. Also, major airfields at Mosul, Kirkuk, Takrit and Qaiyara, all in the north; Habbaniyah, west of Baghdad; Diwaniyah, Kut and Basra in the south; and smaller, concealed airfields in western and central Iraq.
Four major oil refineries: at Kirkuk; Doura, near Baghdad; and Baiji and Qaiyara, on the Tigris River in the north.
The nuclear research center at Zafaranya and a biological research facility at Salman Pak, both just south of Baghdad; and chemical plants at Fallujah, west of Baghdad; Samarra, northwest of the capital; and Qaim, on the Syrian border.
The Nasser arms factory at Mahawiel, near the Tigris south of Baghdad; the Qaqa military production plant at Iskandariyah, south of Baghdad; and the Saladin military complex near Takrit.
Air force and air defense facilities in Takrit, Mosul and Kirkuk; and the 1st Army Corps headquarters in Kirkuk and 5th Army Corps headquarters in Irbil.
Three large army barracks on the outskirts of Baghdad.