US warplanes bombed northern Iraq Thursday after coming under Iraqi fire during routine patrols over the no-fly zone in the region, the US military said.
The aircraft "dropped ordnance on elements of the Iraqi integrated air defense system" in response to Iraqi artillery fire from sites north of Mosul, the Stuttgart-based US European Command said in a statement received here.
All the planes returned safely to their base in Incirlik in southern Turkey, it added.
Some 40 British and US planes are based at Incirlik to patrol the northern no-fly zone imposed on Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War to protect the region's Kurdish population.
A similar exclusion zone was also set up over southern Iraq to protect the Shiite Muslim population there and is patrolled by US and British aircraft based in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Iraq does not recognize the zones, which are not authorized by any specific UN resolution, and has regularly fired on aircraft patrolling them since joint US-British air raids on Baghdad in December 1998.
The US says the planes only target military objectives in self-defense but the Iraqis say civilians and civilian installations are frequently hit – ANKARA (AFP)
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