International Information

International Operation Name: Operation NORTHERN WATCH

International Mission Name: Operation NORTHERN WATCH

Mandating Organization: United Nations

Region Name: Middle East

Location: Iraq

Mission Date: 1 January 1997 - 19 March 2003

Mission Mandate: To enforce a no-fly zone over northern Iraq.

Mission/Operation Notes: Operation Provide Comfort was created in support of UN Security Council Resolution 688 (5 April 1991), which requested that Iraq halt its attacks on the Kurdish people in northern Iraq and that member states assist in the humanitarian relief efforts. Operation PROVIDE COMFORT consisted of two components: a relief operation, which included Canadian participation under Operation ASSIST and Operation REGARD, and a security operation, to ensure that Iraq could not interfere with the relief efforts. Canada participated in the latter through its personnel deployed with the 552nd Air Control Wing (ACW) at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

When PROVIDE COMFORT ceased on 31 December 1996, enforcement of the no-fly zone was continued under Operation NORTHERN WATCH. The mandate was to enforce the no-fly zone north of the 36th parallel in Iraq and monitor Iraqi compliance with Security Council Resolutions 678, 687 and 688. The northern no-fly zone was considered necessary to limit Iraq’s air activities against the Kurds. The use of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, from which the AWACS aircraft from the 552 ACW operated, was reviewed semi-annually by the Turkish Parliament.

While the United States provided the bulk of NORTHERN WATCH forces, the United Kingdom and Turkey also provided aircraft and personnel. Canadians participated throughout the period of operation, as part of their duties with the 552nd ACW. Operation NORTHERN WATCH officially ended on 20 March 2003 with the start of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.

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