Warplanes taking part in U.S.-British patrols dropped 480,000 leaflets on two cities in the "no-fly" zone over southern Iraq yesterday, pressing Iraqi troops and citizens to listen to U.S. Special Forces radio broadcasts to the area, the U.S. military said.

Leaflets providing frequencies of broadcasts criticizing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and providing information on U.N. arms inspections in Iraq were dropped over the cities of Basra and Nasiriyah, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

It was the 12th such mass drop of leaflets, including many warning the Iraqi military to stop targeting U.S. and British warplanes, in the last three months.

Western military aircraft have increased attacks on Iraqi air defenses in the "no-fly" zones of northern and southern Iraq with bombs and missiles in recent months in response to what the U.S. military says are attempts to shoot down its jets.

The U.S. Central Command said last month that modified C-130 cargo planes were being used to broadcast messages to the Iraqi people. More recently, the broadcasts have been directed to the area by Special Operations ground stations outside Iraq.

"Do not let Saddam tarnish the reputation of soldiers any longer. Saddam uses the military to persecute those who don't agree with his unjust agenda," the Central Command quoted one such broadcast yesterday.