The United States, United Kingdom and France proclaimed the no-fly zones in Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War to protect Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south. France withdrew from the patrols in 1996.

The United States and Britain argue the patrols are authorized under U.N. Security Council Resolution 688 adopted April 5, 1991. The text "condemns the repression of the Iraqi civilian population in many parts of Iraq," but it doesn't specifically mention no-fly zones.

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