NATO's AWACS early warning planes flew into Turkey Wednesday for deployment of equipment to defend the country in case of a US-led war against Iraq.
"These aircraft, two of them, are the first and the mission starts now," a NATO official said in Brussels.
The deployment followed a breakthrough last week after a month-long deadlock in NATO ranks over a US request to prepare alliance member Turkey for any attack by Iraq. The deadlock unveiled one of the biggest rifts in NATO's 54-year-history.
The AWACS planes, due to patrol Turkey's border with Iraq, and two cargo planes arrived at the Konya air base in central Turkey from Geilenkirchen, Germany.
Turkey, widely seen playing a front-line role in any US-led war on Iraq, is preparing for a parliamentary vote this week to open its air bases and other military facilities to US troops.