In a statement issued on Sunday, US Naval Forces Central Command confirmed last Friday's attack when F18 Hornet jets took off from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise.

The target was "enemy mortar positions" near Balad, just north of the Iraqi capital. "It was the carrier's first use of precision-guided munitions since the beginning of the new year," the statement said.

Amara protests

In British-controlled Amara in southern Iraq, dozens of demonstrators pelted British soldiers with rocks on Sunday.

British soldiers guarding Amara city hall charged the stone-throwing demonstrators who then dispersed. No one was wounded. 
  

"In a land mass twice the size of the UK it may well not be surprising you don't find where this stuff is hidden"

Tony Blair,
British prime minister

The disturbance follows clashes that left six dead when British troops opened fire on armed men who were protesting along with 500 unemployed men. 
   
The violence comes on the same day that British Prime Minister Tony Blair suggested Saddam Hussein's alleged weapons of mass destruction may never be found in Iraq.

Iraqi WMD

"In a land mass twice the size of the UK it may well not be surprising you don't find where this stuff is hidden", Blair told BBC television. "You can't be definitive at the moment about what has happened."
  
Asked if he had been wrong in highlighting the threat of weapons of mass destruction, whose pursuit by the former Iraqi president was cited as a main justification for the US-led war launched last March, Blair replied:

"You can't say that at this point in time. What you can say is that we received that intelligence about Saddam's programmes and about his weapons." 
  
Doubtful voters

However, a poll published on Sunday showed that half of British voters believe Blair lied over the outing of David Kelly, the ministry of defense expert on Iraqi weapons who killed himself last year.
  
Kelly, 59, was found dead with a slit wrist on 18 July not long after he was exposed as being behind allegations that the prime minister's office "sexed up" intelligence on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction to rally support for the war.
  
Half of Britons agreed with the statement that Blair lied in saying he did not authorize the leaking of Kelly's name, according to the online YouGov poll published in The Mail on Sunday newspaper.