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Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

Volume 505: debated on Friday 5 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations he has made to the UN in respect of the rules of engagement in the (a) Southern and (b) Northern No Fly Zones in Iraq between 1998 and 2002; (315619)

(2) what representations his Department has received in respect of the rules of engagement in the Southern No Fly Zones in Iraq between 1998 and 2002.

During the period in question the Department had a number of discussions with the UN and allies on the No Fly Zones in Iraq. The zones, established in support of UN Security Council Resolution 688, were justified under international law in response to a situation of overwhelming humanitarian necessity due to Saddam Hussein’s violent oppression of Iraq’s minority communities. Between 1998 and 2002 Saddam Hussein waged a systematic campaign against UK (and US) aircraft carrying out patrols—violating the No Fly Zones—designed to prevent a return to the brutal repression of the Kurdish and other minorities in the north and the Shi'a in the south. Our aircraft were authorised to respond to attacks solely in self-defence. All such defensive action was strictly limited to proportional responses against Iraqi weapons and facilities that posed a direct threat to coalition forces. My hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Lewis) will write to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley with more detail on the representations made between 1998 and 2002.