Kuwaiti Oil Fires

Date taken: March 21, 1991
Location: Outside Kuwait City, Kuwait

Photographer: Tech. Sgt. David McLeod
Source: Defense Imagery MOC (via Wikimedia Commons)

Historical Context

When Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein decided in 1990 to attack and occupy the small, neighboring country of Kuwait, he could not have foreseen the enormous international coalition that would come up against him.

Led by the United States, the coalition forces established the largest military alliance since World War II. Saddam himself called the forthcoming confrontation "the mother of all battles." Almost a million coalition forces waited across the border in Saudi Arabia.

Operation Desert Storm, which began on January 17, 1991, was a quick, if massive operation lasting a little more than a month. Iraq was routed, but not before their soldiers enacted a "scorched earth" policy, setting fire to 600-700 Kuwaiti oil wells. They burned for months and the last was extinguished in November 1991.

Historical Events

  • 1991-01-22 Kuwaiti oil facilities are destroyed by Iraqi forces
  • 1991-11-06 The last oil fire in Kuwait set by retreating Iraqi troops is extinguished

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