ANKARA, Turkey – U.S. warplanes bombed surface-to-surface missile systems in northern Iraq early Tuesday after Iraqi forces moved the missiles into a U.S.-patrolled no-fly zone, the U.S. military said.
The Germany-based U.S. European Command said in a statement that U.S. jets used precision-guided weapons to target three surface-to-surface missile systems just south of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
"The coalition carried out today's strike after Iraqi forces moved the mobile surface-to-surface missile systems above the 36th parallel-inside the northern no-fly zone-and in range to threaten coalition forces," the statement said.
All coalition aircraft returned safely, it said.
U.S. and British planes have been enforcing a no-fly zone north of the 36th parallel since the aftermath the of the 1991 Gulf War. A similar zone exists in southern Iraq.
The last U.S. airstrike in northern Iraq occurred on Jan. 31, when U.S. jets struck Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery.
Coalition aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone are based in the southern Turkish base of Incirlik.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein does not recognize the no-fly zones and had been challenging U.S. and British aircraft there since Dec. 1998.
The strike comes as Washington is pressing Turkey to allow tens of thousands of U.S. combat troops in the country to open a northern front in a possible Iraq war.