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Operation Southern Watch

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Operation Southern Watch was an operation conducted by Joint Task Force Southwest Asia (JTF-SWA) with the mission of monitoring and controlling airspace south of the 33rd Parallel in Iraq, following the 1991 Gulf War up until the start of the Second Gulf War in 2003.

General information

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USS Abraham Lincoln rides out a storm in the Arabian Sea while supporting Operation Southern Watch and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Operation Southern Watch was formed August 27, 1992 with the stated purpose of ensuring Iraqi compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions 688, which demanded that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein end the repression of the Iraqi civilian population. Iraqi military bombing and strafing attacks against the Shi’ite Muslims in Southern Iraq during the remainder of 1991 and during 1992 indicated Hussein chose not to comply with the U.N. resolution. Forces from Saudi Arabia, the USA, the UK and France participated in Operation Southern Watch. The commander of JTF-SWA reports directly to US Central Command.

Military engagements in Southern Watch occurred with regularity, though they were usually only reported in the press occasionally. An intensification was noted prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, though it was said at the time to just be in response to increasing activity by Iraqi air-defense forces. It is now known that this increased activity occurred during an operation known as Operation Southern Focus.

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