First air strikes of operation “Desert Storm”. – KUNA

KUWAIT: Kuwait will mark the 29th anniversary of the first air strikes of operation “Desert Storm” launched by international coalition forces to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi Invasion today. Then US President George Bush made the decision to start the military operation on Jan 15, 1991, after a meeting with his senior national security advisers concluded that implementation of the operation should take place after the failure of all diplomatic means to persuade Iraq to withdraw troops.

In the morning of Jan 17, 1991 after the end of the ultimatum set by the UN Security Council, air raids were launched, with the participation of 1,800 warplanes from the US, UK, Saudi and Kuwait. The fighter jets took off from the Red Sea and Incirlik air base in Turkey, and other air bases in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. On the first day, the raids lasted 240 intermittent minutes, in which 400 warplanes participated. The coalition jets conducted 1,200 operations, including 302 by Saudi and Kuwaiti aircraft, destroying almost half of the Iraqi airpower.

Various types of warplanes participated in this operation, under the guidance of AWACS aircraft. The US aircraft carriers fired 100 Tomahawk missiles against Iraqi targets in Iraq and Kuwait. Jaguar warplanes participated in a major role in directing the attacking planes and jamming the counter devices and radars. F-117s warplanes had a primary role in the first strike to destroy and bomb targets in Baghdad, and Iraqi air defense could not shoot down any of them.

The Kuwaiti air force played a heroic role in the war of liberation, striking targets inside Kuwait in order to preserve Kuwaiti properties, in addition to striking airports and Iraqi artillery positions and enemy gatherings. The coalition countries contributed $53 billion for these military operations, with Germany accounting for $6.572 billion, Japan $10.72 billion, South Korea $355 million, Kuwait $16 billion, Saudi Arabia $16.839 billion, UAE $4.88 billion and other countries $30 million.

More than 750,000 soldiers participated, including 500,000 Americans representing ground forces, marines, and air force, 30,000 Britons, and 13,000 French, in addition to some 200,000 troops who made up Arab units that joined the coalition. On Feb 24, coalition forces entered at dawn into Kuwaiti and Iraqi territories. The ground forces were divided into three main groups: The first went to liberate Kuwait City, the second to surround the wing of the Iraqi army west of Kuwait, while the third group was tasked with moving in the far west and entering the south of Iraqi territory to cut off all supplies to the army.

On Feb 26, 1991, the Iraqi army withdrew from Kuwait after setting fire to Kuwait’s oilfields. President Bush announced on Feb 27 the liberation of Kuwait, 100 hours after the launch of the ground operations, saying his famous phrase “Kuwait today is free”. – KUNA