UNITED NATIONS, FEB. 8 -- Iraq asked the United Nations today to send a fact-finding mission to determine whether a bombed Iraqi factory produced infant formula, as Baghdad says, or biological weapons, as the United States says.

It was the first request to the United Nations for an investigation into war damage since the U.S.-led coalition began bombing Iraq and occupied Kuwait on Jan. 17.

In a letter to Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar, Iraqi U.N. envoy Abdul Amir Anbari said planes of the "coalition forces of aggression" on Jan. 21 bombed a factory that produced infant formula.

Gen. Colin Powell, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other U.S. officials said the factory produced biologial weapons.

In his letter, Anbari added: "In order to establish the truth and expose the empty allegations by the United States, which are designed to conceal the criminal nature of the aggression carried out by the United States-NATO-Zionist forces, I request you, on instructions from my government, to send a fact-finding mission to investigate the type of factory involved so that the international community and world public opinion may learn the truth."

Iraqi officials said the factory, bombed during the first week of the war, was the only plant in the country that made infant formula.