Missile fired at Iraqi Targets in Operation Desert Fox,
Zone War" pitted the air and naval forces of the United
States and the United Kingdom (also referred to as "Great
Britain"), against the air defenses of Iraq. This
conflict proved to be largely ignored by the media and
the public in both the U.S. and in the U.K., though it
impacted the military and the citizens of Iraq on an
almost weekly basis, especially after the intense "Desert
Fox" bombing campaign of 1998. The roots of this conflict
are quite simple to trace: the inconclusive and vague
cease-fire agreement ending the Gulf
1990-1991. This agreement called on the Iraqi government
to allow United Nations weapons inspectors to search for
prohibited weapons in Iraq, and, perhaps more
importantly, allowed the Coalition Allies (originally the
U.S., the U.K. and France), to enforce what came to be
called "No-Fly Zones" over northern and southern Iraq.
intent of these zones was to protect the rebellious Iraqi
minorities (Kurds and Shiite Muslims) in northern and
southern Iraq, respectively. The Coalition was permitted
to fly warplanes over these zones to prevent Saddam
Hussein's government from using military aircraft to
attack these minorities. As time progressed though, the
No-Fly Zones became a means for the Allies to force Iraq
to comply with UN and Coalition demands, often related to
the status of the weapons inspectors.
mounted after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on
the United States, the possibility of a major escalation
between Iraq and the U.S. increased dramatically, and the
violence in the No-Fly Zone increased in preparation for
the beginning of the Third
Persian Gulf War: "Operation Iraqi
which began on March 19, 2003. In historical terms, the
No-Fly Zone War is considered to have ended on
March 19, 2003, when "Operation Iraqi Freedom" began and
this conflict segued into the larger war. All three of
the U.S.-led Coalition wars with Iraq (the 1990-1991
the 1991-2003 No-Fly
and the 2003 Iraq
can really be seen as one long, extended conflict, but
for classification purposes, are seen as separate
conflicts. (written on March 22, 2003)
text below shows the dates of previous updates. For now,
that will remain unchanged in order to provide some
of this writing (Sept. 2, 2002), tensions between the
United States and Iraq are escalating, with President
Bush leaning toward an invasion of Iraq with the goal of
toppling the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Such a
war would be part of the American War on Terrorism
sparked by the terrorist attacks of September 11,
2001. The Bush Administration explains its
apprehension with Iraq with two specific concerns.
First, it accuses Iraq of not honoring the 1991
cease-fire agreement of 1991 by no longer allowing United
Nations weapons inspectors to search for weapons of mass
destruction (WOMD). Examples of WOMDs include
biological and chemical weapons, as well as nuclear
arms. In 1998, Iraq barred the UN inspectors from
the country, prompting American and British air strikes
(see “Operation Desert Fox” below). Since
then, no inspectors have been allowed back in. The
Bush Administration is convinced that the Saddam
government is building WOMDs and would be willing to use
them on the United States, and America’s allies in
the Middle East, including Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The second concern revolves around Iraqi support for
international terrorism. While a long-time
supporter of Palestinian efforts to fight Israel, the
allegation that the September 11 terrorists may have
enjoyed Iraqi support could be a determining factor in a
future invasion of Iraq by the U.S. In late summer,
2002, members of the U.S. administration were publicly
discussing and justifying a possible future pre-emptive
attack, while members of the U.S. Congress and the media
are asking for more information. Most traditional
American allies around the world are also expressing
doubts as to the wisdom or the need to invade Iraq.
Meanwhile, American and British air strikes on Iraqi
targets in the “No-Fly Zones”
accelerated. In the week preceding Sept. 2, 2002,
Coalition forces (U.S. and British forces) conducted six
air strikes on Iraqi targets, with the ostensible
justification that the targets posed a threat to the air
patrols in the No-Fly Zones over northern and southern
Iraq (see Washington
on the latest attacks). This conflict could soon
escalate into a major war.
American and British forces carried out Operation Desert
Fox in December 1998 against Iraq, this "forgotten" war
in the Middle East has only become more intense.
According to the New York Times in an article
on August 13, 1999, American and British forces have
escalated the continuing war against Saddam Hussein and
Iraq. Since the beginning of 1999 through August 1999,
Allied pilots launched over 1,100 missiles against 359
Iraqi targets. That number equals nearly three times the
amount of ordnance used in the four-day Desert Fox
strike. Also, the pilots in the Iraq War have flown
two-thirds the number of missions as NATO pilots in the
1999 Kosovo War. By all accounts, Iraqi forces continue
to target their radar and fire missiles at Allied
warplanes despite the punishment inflicted from the air.
The estimated, unofficial cost of this war to U.S. and
British taxpayers is around $1 billion per year. As of
August 1999, over 200 military planes, 19 naval ships and
22,000 American military personnel are committed to
enforcing the "no-fly zones" and to fighting Iraq. In
indicate that the death rate for small children has
doubled in Iraq over the past decade. These child deaths
are attributed to the continuing war and economic
sanctions on Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s unwillingness
to live up to the 1991 cease-fire agreement.
the years since the Gulf War (1990-1991), the United
States and Iraq have engaged in a state of continued
hostility. Under the terms of the armistice, which ended
the war over Kuwait in 1991, Iraq agreed to allow United
Nations weapons, inspectors to search for and destroy
suspected weapons of mass destruction, (WOMDs). Nuclear,
biological and chemical weapons are included in this
category, and Iraq is known to have previously used
chemical weapons in warfare with Iran and with Kurdish
rebels. In 1981, Israel launched an air attack on the
Iraqi nuclear weapons research site of Osirak, thereby
publicizing the early stages of Baghdad's nuclear
order to force Iraq to comply with these restrictions on
weaponry, the United Nations and the United States have
conducted an economic embargo of Iraq, which has
devastated the economy, and the infrastructure of the
nation. Iraq claims several hundred thousand children
have died of malnutrition and poor medical care resulting
from these economic sanctions.
this "cold war" erupts into open warfare, as the Iraqi
government of Saddam Hussein defies the UN and the U.S.,
prompting military responses.
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Iraqi Kurdish Rebellions
(1991-present), Shiite Muslim Rebellion in Iraq
(1991-Present), Turkish Kurdish Rebellion (1985-Present),bin Laden War (1998?-Present), Kosovo
(1999), U.S.-Afghan War (2001-Present)
main cause of the continued hostility between the United
States and Iraq is disagreement over the extent and need
for continued United Nations inspections. The U.S. and
the UN claim that Iraq is not living up to the terms of
the agreement and are continuing to develop WOMDs. Iraq
denies this and claims that the U.S. is attempting to
subvert their national sovereignty and cripple the
country through continued economic sanctions.
Periodically, the government of Saddam Hussein attempts
to force the UN weapons inspectors from the country and
the U.S. and UN respond with threats and occasional bomb
and missile attacks.
point of contention is the continuation of the "no-fly
zones" over northern and southern Iraq. Originally
designed to protect the rebellious Kurdish minority in
the north and the oppressed Shiite minority in the south,
these zones are Iraqi airspace in which Iraqi aircraft
are not allowed to fly. Gulf Coalition air forces have
occasionally enforced these zones by shooting down Iraqi
planes and attacking Iraqi air defense missile batteries
on the ground.
December of 1998, the Iraqi government evicted the UNSCOM
inspectors, accusing them of spying for the American CIA.
This allegation seems to hold some truth to it. As a
result of the end of Iraqi cooperation with UNSCOM, the
United States and Britain unleashed Operation Desert Fox
on Iraq. From December 16th through the 20th, Allied
warplanes and cruise missiles hammered Iraqi targets.
Saddam then declared that Iraq would no longer recognize
the validity of the "no-fly zones" and would actively
contest the Allies for control of all Iraqi airspace.
This has resulted in nearly continual combat in the skies
over Iraq as air-defense missile batteries attempt to
shoot down American and British warplanes. In response,
Allied forces attack these missile batteries and
occasionally engage in punishing air strikes on other
targets in Iraq.
the years, the continued conflict between the United
States and Iraq has erupted several times into violence.
The following chart details those incidents of combat. As
new attacks occur, this chart will be updated. Incidents
begin with the earliest dates, with more recent events at
of "no-fly zone".
"no-fly zone" is imposed over south Iraq as a
means of halting air attacks on Shiite Muslim
rebels. The United States begins air patrols of
combat to enforce Operation Southern Watch
plane shoots down an Iraqi Mig-25 when it enters
the "no-fly zone."
, Britain and France
air and missile strike.
coalition forces strike Iraqi radar and missile
sites near the cities of Nasiriyah, Samawa,
Najaf and Al Amara. Over 100 aircraft take part
in these attacks.
United States struck the Zafraniyah Nuclear
Fabrication Facility, near Baghdad, with up to
42 Tomahawk Cruise missiles. This strike was
designed to punish Saddam Hussein for Iraq's
non-compliance with United Nations weapons
United States fires 24 cruise missiles from two
US Navy ships at an intelligence headquarters in
Baghdad. Iraq claims eight people are killed in
the assault. President Clinton ordered this
attack as retaliation for an alleged plot to
assassinate former President George Bush on a
trip to Kuwait.
buildup due to renewed crisis.
planes and 54,000 troops head for the Gulf as
Iraq's troops appear to be on the verge of
launching an offensive on Kuwait. Crisis is
averted as Iraq pulls back its army.
and KDP (Kurdish Faction)
army support for one side in Kurdish civil war
inside "protected area" in Northern
seizes the city of Irbil inside the Kurdish
"safe haven" protected by US-led
3 and 4, 1996
missile strike in response to Iraqi military
United States fires 44 Tomahawk cruise missiles
at Iraqi military targets. President Clinton
extends the "no-fly zone" to cover parts of
Baghdad and central Iraq.
16 through December 20, 1998
missile and air strikes to punish Iraq for
non-cooperation with UNSCOM's
U.S. and Britain attacked sites related to the
production of nuclear, chemical and biological
weapons. Targets hit included airfields,
military command centers, suspected missile
factories and an oil refinery. Bases and
headquarters for Saddam's Republican Guard were
also hit. As a result of these attacks, the
Iraqi government declared an end to all UNSCOM
inspections and said it would militarily
challenge the "no-fly" zones.
missile batteries fired on U.S. aircraft over
the northern "no-fly" zone.
Allied warcraft returned fire and destroyed the
Iraqi air-defense battery.
missile batteries fired on U.S. and British
aircraft over the southern "no-fly"
Allied warcraft returned fire and destroyed the
Iraqi air-defense battery.
30, 1998- March 19, 2003
bomb and missile attacks by the U.S. and
Desert Fox, the Allies have engaged in almost
daily attacks as Iraq attempts to enforce its
sovereignty over the "no-fly" zones. After
Desert Fox, Iraq ejected all UN inspectors and
declared the "no-fly" zones to be illegal.
Violence increased as tensions mounted during
the lead-in to the 2003
It was reported that when the NATO assaults on
Yugoslavia/Serbia began in the Kosovo War, Iraq and
Yugoslavia communicated information regarding U.S. and
British air tactics. Also, unconfirmed reports indicate
that the two nations traded and/or sold to each other
In effect, the Gulf War never really ended, but
merely shifted into a type of cold war, with lots of
yelling, threats and rhetoric interspersed with a few
brief moments of violence. Since December of 1998, the
violence has escalated markedly.
Continued tension in the Gulf region. This has the
effect of disrupting the worldwide oil markets and has
also disrupted stock exchanges around the
A continued drain on the military resources of the
United States and other Gulf Coalition allies. Increasing
criticism of the Gulf monarchies who allow Coalition
forces to use their countries as staging areas for action
As a result of the economic embargo against their
nation, the Iraqi people have suffered greatly. The
nation's infrastructure is collapsing and thousands of
children have died as the poorer elements of the society
are hit by the sanctions.
Several dozen military casualties resulting from air
attacks. Civilian deaths due to the sanctions run into
the thousands. Exact figures are not available. Operation
Desert Fox was first reported by Iraq to have killed
"thousands" of people, but newer numbers indicate
casualties in the low hundreds.
Coalition Allies -- No reported casualties from
Well-detailed site listing significant actions from
December of 1998 to June of 1999.
a non-profit, non-governmental organization working for
democracy and human rights in Iraq, and for a better
international understanding of Iraq's potential as a
contributor to political stability and economic progress
in the Middle East."*Descriptive
statement is from the Iraq Foundation website.
A very detailed accounting of Iraqi/Mesopotamian history
covering Biblical times to the Present.
The United Nations Special Commission, the
organization that conducts the weapons inspections in
Iraq. This page is part of the UN website.
of the Iraq4ever website. Lists the rulers of Iraq from
independence to the present.
of the Iraq4ever website. Includes quite a bit of detail
on the history of Iraq and the Mesopotamia
Iraq Action Coalition (IAC) is an independent grassroots
coalition dedicated to ending the war on the people of
Iraq. IAC provides information and analysis on the
devastating effects of the continuing war (sanctions)."
statement taken from IAC Homepage.**
a trade and financial embargo on Iraq and occupied
Kuwait. Establishes a special sanctions committee to
implement the resolution and calls upon U.N. members to
protect the assets of Kuwait around the world.