A Timeline of Operation Desert Storm

 

Partial image of the artwork "Desert Storm" by Frank Thomas

“Desert Storm” By Frank Thomas (Persian Gulf 1991)

 

On January 16, 1991, Operation Desert Storm began. The conflict, as know as the Gulf War, was waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. On February 28, 1991, President Bush declared suspension of offensive combat and laid out conditions for permanent cease-fire. Check out the timeline below for a snapshot of events that took place during this time:

Day 1: Wednesday, Jan. 16

  • Desert Storm begins at 7 p.m. EST (3 a.m. Jan. 17 in Iraq) with massive air and missile attacks on targets in Iraq, Kuwait.
  • President Bush: “We will not fail.”

Day 2: Thursday, Jan. 17

  • Iraqi President Saddam Hussein declares: “The great showdown has begun! The mother of all battles is under way.”
  • Iraqi Scud missiles strike Israel.
  • Scud fired at Saudi Arabia is downed by U.S. Patriot missile – first anti- missile missile fired in combat.

Day 3: Friday, Jan. 18

  • Amid retaliation speculation, President Bush says Israel has promised not to respond to Iraq’s attack.

Day 4: Saturday, Jan. 19

  • At least three Scuds explode in Tel Aviv, Israel, injuring about 17. Israel vows to defend itself but refrains. United States rushes in Patriots, making Army crews first U.S. soldiers to defend Israel.
  • U.S. troops raid oil platforms off Kuwait, capturing first Iraqi prisoners of war.

Day 5: Sunday, Jan. 20

  • Iraqi TV airs interviews with captured allied airmen.
  • Iraq fires 10 Scuds at Saudi Arabia; nine are intercepted, one falls offshore.

Screaming Eagles Attack Village

Day 6: Monday, Jan. 21

  • U.S. officials say despite more than 8,000 sorties in five days, elusive mobile Scud missile launchers remain a threat.
  • Iraq says it has scattered prisoners of war as shields at allied air targets.

Day 7: Tuesday, Jan. 22

  • Iraq fires six Scud missiles at Saudi Arabia; one is destroyed by Patriot, others fall harmlessly.
  • Iraq torches Kuwaiti oil wells, tanks.
  • A Scud eludes U.S. Patriot missiles and hits Tel Aviv. Three people die.

Day 8: Wednesday, Jan. 23

  • U.S. officials deny Saddam Hussein’s claim that allies bombed baby-formula plant, saying plant was a chemical factory.
  • Iraq fires Scuds at Israel and Saudi Arabia; no casualties.
  • President Bush urges Saddam Hussein be brought to “justice,” suggesting removal of Iraqi president could be a goal.

Day 9: Thursday, Jan. 24

  • Number of allied sorties surpasses 15,000.
  • Saudi officials report two oil slicks moving south of Kuwait. Allies say Iraq released oil; Iraq blames allied bombs.

Day 10: Friday, Jan. 25

  • Japan says it will send military aircraft to assist allies in non-combat situations.
  • Scud missiles are fired at Israel and Saudi Arabia. Two people killed.

Day 11: Saturday, Jan. 26

  • Massive oil spill grows, threatening Saudi Arabia’s industrial and desalination plants and gulf environment.
  • Iraqi warplanes land in Iran. Iran says it has seized them.
  • U.S. F-15s enter war’s first major dogfight, shoot down three Iraqi MiG- 23s.
  • Pentagon confirms USS Louisville is first sub to launch cruise missile in combat.
  • Scuds fired at Israel and Saudi Arabia; no casualties.
  • More than 75,000 protesters march in Washington, D.C.

Day 12: Sunday, Jan. 27

  • Allies bomb Iraqi-held oil facilities in Kuwait to stop Iraq from dumping oil into gulf.
  • Amid fears of terrorism, Super Bowl XXV goes off without a hitch.

Day 13: Monday, Jan. 28

  • Iraq says captured allied pilots have been injured in allied bombing raids.

Day 14: Tuesday, Jan. 29

  • In largest ground battle yet, battalion-size force of U.S. Marines (up to 800) fire artillery, mortars, TOW missiles, at Iraqi bunkers half-mile away in Kuwait. No U.S. casualties.
  • United States, Soviet Union issue communique offering Iraq cease-fire if it makes “unequivocal commitment” to withdraw.

Day 15: Wednesday, Jan. 30

  • Scores of Iraqi tanks, thousands of troops advance into Saudi Arabia. Attacks are countered by U.S. Marines, Saudi and Qatari troops. Eleven Marines die.
  • Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, allied commander, says allies have air supremacy and are reducing Scud threat.

Day 16: Thursday, Jan. 31

  • Saudi and Qatari troops, backed by U.S. artillery, retake Khafji, Saudi Arabia.
  • Sheik Abdul-Aziz Bin Baz, Saudis’ leading interpreter of Islamic law, calls Saddam Hussein “enemy of God.”

Day 17: Friday, Feb. 1

  • Allies bomb 10-mile-long Iraqi armored column headed into Saudi Arabia.

Day 18: Saturday, Feb. 2

  • Two Scuds hit central Israel; no casualties. Patriot downs Scud over Saudi Arabia; two injured.

Day 19: Sunday, Feb. 3

  • Allied air campaign passes 40,000-sortie mark – 10,000 more missions than were flown against Japan in final 14 months of World War II.

Day 20: Monday, Feb. 4

  • Iran offers to mediate peace talks, resume official relations with United States.
  • Battleship Missouri fires at Iraqi positions inside Kuwait – first time ship has fired in combat since Korean War.

Day 21: Tuesday, Feb. 5

  • Iraq suspends fuel sales to civilians, worsening heating and transportation problems.

    Desert Storm: The Offensive Framework

  • Syrian troops, in first combat action, repulse Iraqi probe at Saudi-Kuwait border.

Day 22: Wednesday, Feb. 6

  • U.S. F-15 fighters shoot down four Iraqi jets as they try to join 120 Iraqi aircraft that have been flown to Iran.

Day 23: Thursday, Feb. 7

  • President Bush’s top two war advisers – Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell – leave for gulf to assess war.
  • Battleship Wisconsin joins Missouri in firing huge 16-inch guns at sites in Kuwait – first combat firing for Wisconsin since Korean War.

Day 24: Friday, Feb. 8

  • Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, en route to Saudi Arabia, gives strongest indication to date ground war is coming. Open question: when.

Day 25: Saturday, Feb. 9

  • Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell meet for more than eight hours with Desert Storm commander, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, other military leaders.
  • Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warns that military operations in Persian Gulf war threaten to exceed U.N. mandate; he says he’s sending envoy to Baghdad for talks with Saddam Hussein.

Day 26: Sunday, Feb. 10

  • Saddam Hussein addresses his nation for first time since three days after war started, pledging victory and praising “steadfastness, faith and light in the chests of Iraqis.”

Day 27: Monday, Feb. 11

  • President Bush, after meeting with top two military advisers, says alliance is in no hurry to begin ground war.
  • News reports in Egypt say Iraq’s government estimates privately that more than 15,000 Iraqi troops have been killed.

Day 28: Tuesday, Feb. 12

  • Allied forces open combined land-sea-air barrage against Iraqis in Kuwait – largest battlefield action to date.
  • Officials say cost of fighting effects of oil slick lapping at Saudi Arabia’s coast will be $1 billion over next six months.

Day 29: Wednesday, Feb. 13

  • U.S. Stealth fighters drop two bombs on fortified underground facility in Baghdad. Iraqi officials claim at least 500 civilians are killed in facility, which they describe as public bomb shelter. U.S. military officials release information they say proves underground facility was military command center.

Day 30: Thursday, Feb. 14

  • Pentagon says allied planes have destroyed at least 1,300 of Iraq’s 4,280 tanks, 800 of 2,870 armored vehicles and 1,100 of 3,110 artillery pieces.
  • United Nations Security Council meets in closed session to discuss war.

Day 31: Friday, Feb. 15

  • Iraq says it is prepared to withdraw from Kuwait, but adds conditions, including Israeli pullout from occupied Arab territories, forgiveness of Iraqi debts and allied payment of costs of rebuilding Iraq. President Bush dismisses Iraqi offer as “cruel hoax.” – Allied forces continue moving supplies toward front in preparation for launch of ground war.

Day 32: Saturday, Feb. 16

  • U.S. attack helicopters make first nighttime raids on Iraqi positions.
  • Iraqi authorities claim 130 civilians were killed by British Tornado jet strikes.
  • Iraq fires two Scuds at Israel, hitting southern part of country for first time; no injuries.
  • Iraq’s ambassador to U.N., Abdul Amir al-Anbari, says Iraq will use weapons of mass destruction if U.S. bombing continues.
  • Pentagon says Iraq deliberately staged damage of civilian areas as propaganda.

Day 33: Sunday, Feb. 17

  • President Bush says Iraq’s takeover of Kuwait will end “very, very soon.”
  • U.S. and Iraqi troops clash in seven incidents along Saudi-Kuwait border; 20 Iraqis surrender to Apache helicopter fire.
  • Iraq’s foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, arrives in Moscow for talks with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. He is quoted en route as saying it’s up to allies to act on Iraq’s peace proposal.
  • U.S. military, intelligence officials estimate 15% of Iraq’s fighting forces in Kuwait area have been killed or wounded.

Day 34: Monday, Feb. 18

  • Floating mines strike two U.S. warships in gulf. USS Tripoli and USS Princeton damaged but still operational.
  • Air Force helicopter search team rescues U.S. pilot who parachuted from disabled plane 40 miles north of Saudi border.

Day 35: Tuesday, Feb. 19

  • Baghdad Radio reports Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz has returned to Baghdad with Soviet peace proposal.

    Living tents are erected. The tent pegs are weighted with sand bags to keep them from pulling out during rain and wind storms. Tent lines are used for laundry. (Jan 1991)

  • President Bush says Soviet proposal falls “well short” of what’s needed to end war.
  • Iranian newspaper cites Iraqi official as saying Iraq has suffered 20,000 dead, 60,000 wounded.
  • U.S. Marines bombard Iraqi targets inside Kuwait with heavy artillery fire for second consecutive day.
  • Saudi officials say gulf oil slick is smaller than originally feared – 60 million gallons, not 400 million.

Day 36: Wednesday, Feb. 20

  • One American killed, seven wounded in fighting along Saudi border. U.S. helicopters destroy Iraqi bunker complex; up to 500 Iraqis taken prisoner.
  • U.S. planes attack 300 Iraqi vehicles 60 miles into Kuwait, destroying 28 tanks.
  • Baghdad Radio says Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz will travel to Moscow “soon” with Saddam Hussein’s reply to Soviet peace proposal.
  • Allied commander Norman Schwarzkopf is quoted as saying Iraq’s military is on “verge of collapse.”
  • U.S. officials want Iraq to announce specific timetable for withdrawing from Kuwait as condition for peace settlement.

Day 37: Thursday, Feb. 21

  • Soviet spokesman Vitaly Ignatenko announces Iraq, Soviet Union have agreed on plan that could lead to Iraqi withdrawal.
  • Saddam Hussein declares Iraq remains ready to fight ground war.
  • Defense Secretary Dick Cheney says allies are preparing “one of the largest land assaults of modern times.”
  • Seven U.S. soldiers killed in helicopter crash – war’s deadliest non- combat accident to date.

Day 38: Friday, Feb. 22

  • President Bush rejects Soviet peace plan, deplores Iraq’s “scorched- earth” destruction of Kuwaiti oil fields. He demands Iraq begin withdrawal from Kuwait by noon Feb. 23 to avoid ground war.
  • Iraqi information official brands U.S. position “shameful ultimatum.”
  • Soviet Union announces eight-point withdrawal plan.
  • Iraq sets ablaze one-sixth of Kuwait’s 950 oil wells.

Day 39: Saturday, Feb. 23

  • Allies’ ground offensive begins at 8 p.m. EST (4 a.m. Feb. 24 Saudi time).
  • Defense Secretary Dick Cheney halts news briefings on war.
  • At 10:02 p.m. EST, President Bush tells nation, “The liberation of Kuwait has entered the final phase.” Bush authorizes commander Norman Schwarzkopf to “use all forces available, including ground forces, to expel the Iraqi army from Kuwait.”
  • U.S. officials say Iraqi soldiers are rounding up Kuwaitis to torture, execute.
  • At least 200 oil wells and facilities are ablaze in Kuwait.

Day 40: Sunday, Feb. 24

  • Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf hails first day of allied ground offensive as “dramatic success.” Allied casualties are very light; more than 5,500 Iraqis are captured.
  • Saddam Hussein urges troops to kill “with all your might” in radio speech.
  • More than 300 attack and supply helicopters strike more than 50 miles into Iraq, largest such assault in military history.
  • Queen Elizabeth II, in first wartime broadcast of 39-year reign, tells her country she has prayed for victory.
  • Iraq fires two Scud missiles into Israel; no injuries.

Day 41: Saturday, Feb. 25

  • Baghdad Radio reports Saddam Hussein has ordered troops to withdraw from Kuwait in accordance with Soviet peace proposal.
  • Says White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater: “The war goes on.”
  • On Kuwait’s Independence Day, allied forces are reported on outskirts of Kuwait City, poised to liberate capital as more reports surface of Iraqi killings of civilians and torching of buildings.
  • Iraqi Scud missile hits barracks in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Eventual toll: 28 U.S. soldiers killed, 90 wounded.
  • U.S. officials report four U.S. soldiers killed, 21 wounded in first two days of allied ground assault; nearly 20,000 Iraqis taken prisoner; 270 tanks destroyed.
  • Iraqi-launched Silkworm anti-ship missile shot down by allied warships.

Day 42: Tuesday, Feb. 26

  • Brig. Gen. Richard Neal in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, says Iraqi forces are in “full retreat” with allied forces pursuing; Iraqi POWs number 30,000-plus, number to climb to 63,000.
  • Saddam Hussein announces Iraqi occupation forces will withdraw completely.
  • Residents of Kuwait City celebrate end to occupation. Resistance groups set up headquarters to control city.
  • U.S. Marine in Kuwait City says U.S. Embassy is back under U.S. control.

Day 43: Wednesday, Feb. 28

  • Kuwaiti troops raise emirate’s flag in Kuwait City.
  • President Bush declares suspension of offensive combat and lays out conditions for permanent cease-fire