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Struggle for Iraq
Click on the events below to read about Iraq's history
Saddam's rise:
Iran-Iraq war:
Gulf War:
1990 - 1991
Second war:
Young activist
Hardline deputy
War breaks out
Israeli bombing
Chemical warfare
Western support
Truce and debt
Kuwait invasion
Desert Storm
Scud missiles
Civilian casualties
Ground war
Iraqi ceasefire
After the war
No-fly zones
Desert Fox
Inspectors barred
US-led invasion
Saddam captured
Iraq in turmoil
Trial of Saddam

On 17 January 1991, US, British and allied planes launched a massive campaign of missile strikes and aerial bombing.

President Bush Snr declared: "We will not fail."

Saddam Hussein announced: "The mother of all battles is under way.''

Cruise missiles were used for the first time in warfare, fired from US warships in the Gulf.

Footage filmed from the missiles' noses as they homed in on their targets was transmitted across the world.

US, British and Saudi Arabian fighter planes, bombers and helicopters set out to destroy hundreds of targets.

These ranged from military headquarters and airfields, to bridges, government buildings, media outlets, communications centres and power plants.

Allied planes flew more than 116,000 sorties over the following six weeks, dropping an estimated total of 85,000 tons of bombs.

About 10% of these were so-called smart bombs, which are guided to their targets by a laser beam pointed from a second aircraft.

Tracer fire lights up the Baghdad skyline during Operation Desert Storm
Tracer fire lights up the Baghdad skyline

A cruise missile is fired from an aircraft carrier during Operation Desert Storm

Cruise missiles were used for
the first time in war

"The missiles made surprisingly little noise"
The BBC's John Simpson reports from Baghdad


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