More than 100,000 Iraqi soldiers backed up by 700 tanks invaded the Gulf state of Kuwait in the early hours of this morning.
Iraqi forces have established a provisional government and their leader Saddam Hussein has threatened to turn Kuwait city into a “graveyard” if any other country dares to challenge the “take-over by force”.
Iraqi jets have bombed targets in the capital and special forces have landed at the defence ministry and at the Emir’s palace. Road blocks are in place and there are reports of looting in the city’s shops.
Initial reports suggest up to 200 people have been killed in heavy gunfire around the city.
It is reported that the younger brother of Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Sabah has been killed whilst trying to defend the palace, while the Emir himself has escaped to Saudi Arabia.
All communication has been cut with Kuwait and many people, including thousands of foreign nationals, are trapped in the city.
The invasion has sparked strong condemnation from leaders around the world.
The United Nations Security Council, in emergency session, has called for the “immediate and unconditional” withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, branded the invasion as “absolutely unacceptable” while American president George Bush condemned the attack as “a naked act of aggression.”
So far there has been no condemnation of the attack from any Arab country.
Kuwait’s assets in the UK and the US have been frozen to prevent Iraq from seizing them and the US has also frozen Iraq’s assets.
The Soviet Union, Iraq’s main supplier of arms, has suspended the delivery of all military equipment to Iraq.
In recent weeks Iraq had accused Kuwait of flooding the world market with oil and has demanded compensation for oil produced from a disputed oil field on the border of the two countries.
In response to the news of the invasion the price of oil rose dramatically and stock markets around the world have fallen.
Kuwait has appealed for international aid but there is no suggestion of any military action from the West at this stage.
Courtesy BBC News
On 9 August 1990 the UN Security Council voted 15-0 to declare Iraq’s annexation of Kuwait null and void.
During the next three months allied forces were deployed to the region as part of Operation Desert Shield. The Soviet Union stated it would not participate in military action.
The Gulf crisis intensified and President Bush continued preparations to remove Iraq from Kuwait by force. Iraq ignored all deadlines set by the West to end its occupation of the Gulf state.
On 17 January 1991, coalition forces launched Desert Storm in what would be the longest air strike in the history of aerial warfare.
Iraq responded by launching Scud missiles against Israel and Saudi Arabia. Fierce fighting continued until 28 February when Iraq, whose military capability had by now been seriously harmed, agreed to a ceasefire.