Tag Archives: SAS

Who Dares Wins ?

Who Dares, Wins

Who Dares, Wins (LatinQui audet adipisciturFrenchQui ose gagneItalianChi osa vincePortugueseQuem ousa, venceGermanWer wagt, gewinnt) is a motto made popular by the British Special Air Service. It is normally credited to the founder of the SAS, David Stirling.

The Special Air Service (sas) in North Africa during the Second World War E21340.jpg

David Stirling

Among the SAS themselves it is sometimes humorously corrupted to:

“Who cares [who] wins?”.

 May have a much earlier attribution from a medieval Arabic source recently translated:

The catchphrase “He Who Dares, Wins” was commonly used by Del Boy in British sitcom Only Fools and Horses.

only fools and horses he who dares win.jpg

The motto has been used by twelve elite special forces units around the world that in some way have historical ties to the British SAS.

An early statement of the idea is ‘τοῖς τολμῶσιν ἡ τύχη ξύμφορος’ (“fortune favours the bold”) from the Ancient Greek soldier and historian Thucydides.

 

War Grave from Jimmy Hall-Les Ormes

(Yonne, France)

 

 

Nation Unit Notes
 United Kingdom Special Air Service
 Australia Special Air Service Regiment
 New Zealand New Zealand Special Air Service
 Hong Kong Special Duties Unit
 Tunisia Unité Spéciale – Garde Nationale
 France 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment French1er Régiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine, 1er RPIMa: Former WWII French SAS squadrons (the 3rd & the 4th)
 Rhodesia Rhodesian Special Air Service . ‘C Squadron (Rhodesia) Special Air Service’ Mil. Abbrev. ‘C Sqn SAS’. Later ‘Rhodesian Special Air Service Regiment’ in Kabrit Barracks, Salisbury (now Harare)
 Greece 1st Raider/Paratrooper Brigade Ο τολμών νικά (pronounced O tolmon nika)
 Greece Mountain Raider Companies Ο τολμών νικά (pronounced O tolmon nika)
 Cyprus LOK Ο τολμών νικά (pronounced O tolmon nika)
 Israel Sayeret Matkal, Shachak Armored Battalion (196th Battalion/460th Armored Brigade) Hebrew: המעז מנצח. HaMe’ez Menatzeakh
 Belgium 1st Parachutist Battalion During the Second World War, many of its personnel were part of the British 5th Special Air Service and retained the SAS badge, motto and traditions.

 

See:  Loughgall ambush – SAS kill 8 Republican Terrorists

See:  Black SAS war Hero -Talaiasi Labalaba

See:   British SAS Special Forces (Full Documentary)

Black SAS war Hero -Talaiasi Labalaba

Talaiasi Labalaba

Talaiasi Labalaba BEM (13 July 1942 – 19 July 1972), who initially served in the British Army in the Royal Irish Rangers,  was a British-Fijian Sergeant in B Squadron 22nd British SAS unit involved in the Battle of Mirbat on 19 July 1972.

Mirbat Castle, site of the Battle of Mirbat

Mirbat Castle, site of the Battle of Mirbat

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SAS Hero: Tribute To Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba

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Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba with Omani children in Oman

Labalaba, aged 30, was shot dead whilst firing a 25-pounder gun at the attacking guerrilla forces.

25 Pounder Gun.JPG

He displayed notable bravery by continuing to fire the 25 pounder single handed in spite of being seriously wounded when a bullet hit him on the jaw, after his Omani loader was seriously wounded early in the battle.

Captain Mike Kealy, fellow troopers Tommy Tobin and Sekonaia Takavesi ran a gauntlet of enemy fire but arrived too late to save Labalaba. Both the troopers were also hit,

Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba (left) and Sgt Sekonaia Takavesi (Right)

Takavesi was wounded in the back and Tobin was killed when a round crept through the sand-bagged walls and hit him in the face. Labalaba’s actions helped to keep the insurgents pinned down until Strikemaster jets of the SOAF arrived to drive back the attackers while reinforcements from Salalah could be organised.

Shoreham Airshow 2013 (9696960681).jpg

BAC Strikemaster Mk82a

Fellow SAS trooper Roger Cole in his book of the battle, SAS: Operation Storm, paid tribute to Labalaba saying if the guerrilla force had taken the 25-pounder then the SAS would have surely lost the battle.

Labalaba was awarded a posthumous Mention in Dispatches for his actions in the Battle of Mirbat, although some of his former comrades have campaigned for him to be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. His body was returned to England and buried in the cemetery at St Martin’s Church, Hereford.

Grave of Sgt. T. Labalaba BEM, Special Air Service

In 2012 he was chosen as one of BBC Radio 4‘s 60 New Elizabethans in celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee

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Grave of Sgt. T. Labalaba BEM, Special Air Service

He was fighting a secret and brutal war in a dusty land far from home.

But while the 1972 clash between British forces and Communist rebels in Oman has long passed into history, the actions of Sergeant Talaiasi Labalaba have not.

Instead, the Fijian soldier’s exemplary courage under fire places him high on the pantheon of SAS heroes

Labalaba is remembered to this day. Next month, a statue of the soldier will be unveiled at SAS headquarters in Hereford in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday.

And in a week when the British National Party was accused of appropriating the British military for their own ends – and airbrushing ethnic minority personnel from history –  his story seems particularly poignant.

The sergeant and his nine-strong SAS unit were part of a clandestine mission to protect the Sultan of Oman from the People’s Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arab Gulf.

By July 1972, they had been in the country for a year and the assignment – codenamed Operation Jaguar – appeared to be going well.

But then the rebels stuck back. On the morning of July 19, around 250 elite fighters stormed MIrbat, a small town on the Arabian sea, leaving the SAS pinned down inside a fort.

As his comrades fought an increasingly desperate battle to hold off 250 insurgents, it dawned on Labalaba, 30, that they were about to be overrun.

With no cover and facing certain death, he sprinted across 800 metres of exposed ground to reach a 25-pound field-gun.

It was a brave – but apparently futile manouevre – as the huge weapon took three men to operate.

That, however, did not deter Labalaba. Nor did facial injuries which would have rendered a lesser man helpless.

As British forces watched in astonishment, Labalaba turned the cumbersome gun on the enemy and opened fire at near point blank range.

Walter Tull

Prejudice: Walter Tull was made a second lieutenant despite a ban on the commissioning of soldiers with ‘Asiatic or negroid features’

He went on for six hours, decimating the rebels and ultimately paying for his courage with his life.

His comrades found him slumped face down by the massive gun. His selfless actions undoubtedly saved many of the British soldiers holed up inside the fort and won him a posthumous Mention in Despatches.

For many, his statue will be a long-overdue memorial to one of the SAS’s greatest heroes.

It is also some small recompense to thousands of ethnic minority servicemen, many from Commonwealth countries, who feel their courage and devotion has not been recognised in the same way as their white counterparts.

Labalaba and his comrade Trooper Sekonaia Takavesi, a fellow Fijian who rushed to his aid after he was wounded, are two of the most celebrated examples.

But there are countless others.

Among those are Second Lieutenant Walter Tull, born in Kent but the son of a former Barbados slave, who volunteered for the army just a week after the declaration of World War One.

He survived many battles, was the first British Army black officer to take charge of white troops and eventually died on the Western Front in 1918.

Tull’s career, however, was blighted by prejudice.

Despite being recommended for the Military Cross for ‘gallantry and coolness under fire’, he never received it.

Senior officers had defied a rule which prevented soldiers with ‘Asiatic or negroid features’ being commissioned to make Tull a second lieutenant.

See Daily Mail for full story

SAS take out four IRA men – Clonoe ambush

The Clonoe ambush

SAS take out four IRA men – Clonoe ambush

The Clonoe ambush happened on 16 February 1992 in the village of Clonoe, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. A local Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) unit was ambushed by the Special Air Service and 14 Intelligence Company at a graveyard after launching a heavy machine gun attack on the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base in Coalisland. IRA members Peter Clancy, Kevin Barry O’Donnell, Seán O’Farrell, and Patrick Vincent were killed, while two others escaped. An SAS soldier was wounded in the operation.

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S.A.S KILL 4 IRA MEN WHO ATTACK COALISLAND POLICE STATION.

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The Victims

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16 February 1992


Kevin O’Donnell,21) Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by undercover British Army (BA) members, in the car park of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Dernagh, near Coalisland, shortly after he had been involved in gun attack on Coalisland British Army (BA) / Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base, County Tyrone.

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16 February 1992


Sean O’Farrell, (23)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by undercover British Army (BA) members, in the car park of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Dernagh, near Coalisland, shortly after he had been involved in gun attack on Coalisland British Army (BA) / Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base, County Tyrone.

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16 February 1992


Peter Clancy,  (19)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by undercover British Army (BA) members, in the car park of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Dernagh, near Coalisland, shortly after he had been involved in gun attack on Coalisland British Army (BA) / Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base, County Tyrone.

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16 February 1992
David Vincent, (20)

Catholic
Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by undercover British Army (BA) members, in the car park of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Dernagh, near Coalisland, shortly after he had been involved in gun attack on Coalisland British Army (BA) / Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base, County Tyrone.

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– Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in this post / documentary  are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

Background

See also: Loughgall ambush, Ballygawley bombing, Derrygorry Gazelle shootdown and Coagh ambush

From 1985 onwards, the IRA in East Tyrone had been at the forefront of a wide IRA campaign against British military facilities. In 1987, an East Tyrone IRA unit was ambushed and eight of its members killed by the SAS while bombing an RUC base at Loughgall, County Armagh. This was the IRA’s greatest loss of life in a single incident during the Troubles. Despite these losses, the IRA campaign continued unabated; 33 British bases were destroyed and nearly 100 damaged during the next five years.[2] The SAS ambush had no noticeable long-term effect on the level of IRA activity in East Tyrone. In the two years before the Loughgall ambush the IRA killed seven people in East Tyrone and North Armagh, and eleven in the two years following the ambush.[3]

Three other IRA volunteers — Gerard Harte, Martin Harte and Brian Mullin — had been ambushed and killed by the SAS as they tried to kill an off-duty Ulster Defence Regiment soldier near Carrickmore, County Tyrone.[4] British intelligence identified them as the perpetrators of the Ballygawley bus bombing, which killed eight British soldiers. After that bombing, all troops on leave or returning from leave were ferried in and out of East Tyrone by helicopter.[5] Another high-profile attack of the East Tyrone Brigade was carried out on 11 January 1990 near Augher, where a Gazelle helicopter was shot down.[6]

On 3 June 1991, three IRA men, Lawrence McNally, Michael “Pete” Ryan and Tony Doris, died in another SAS ambush at Coagh, where their car was riddled with gunfire. Ryan was the same man who according to Irish journalist and author Ed Moloney had led the mixed flying column in the attack on Derryard checkpoint on the orders of IRA Army Council member ‘Slab’ Murphy two years before. Moloney, who wrote A Secret History of the IRA, reported that the IRA East Tyrone Brigade lost 53 members during the Troubles — the highest of any “Brigade area”.[7] Of these, 28 were killed between 1987 and 1992.[8]

The ambush

On 16 February 1992 at 22:30, a car and a truck carrying a number of IRA members drove into the centre of Coalisland and stopped at the fortified RUC/British Army base. The unit opened fire on the base at point-blank with armour-piercing tracer ammunition. They had mounted a heavy DShK machine-gun on the back of the lorry. The machine-gun was manned by Kevin Barry O’Donnell. The two vehicles then drove up the Annagher hill and drove past the house of Tony Doris, an IRA member killed the previous year. There they spent the last rounds of ammunition firing in the air and shouting, “Up the ‘RA, that’s for Tony Doris!”. The IRA unit was intercepted by the SAS[9] at the car park of St Patrick’s Roman Catholic church in Clonoe. The unit was trying to dump the truck and escape in cars. The roof of the church was accidentally set on fire after a stray round hit a fuel storage tank.[10] Three of the dead were found around the truck, while the fourth was caught in a fence outside the church grounds. The machine-gun had been partially dismantled. At least two IRA men got away from the scene, but the four named above were killed. One SAS soldier was wounded, as was Aidan McKeever, the IRA getaway driver.[11] Several witnesses claimed some of the IRA volunteers were trying to surrender but were summarily executed by the SAS.[1] McKeever was awarded ₤75,000 in damages in 2012 by Mr Justice Treacy of Northern Ireland’s High Court. It is unclear if this decision was appealed or if the damages were ever paid.[12]

Internal IRA criticism

A local IRA source pointed out a number of flaws in the operation that led to the deaths of the volunteers:

  • The use of a long-range weapon for a point-blank shooting. The DShK could be used up to 2,000 meters from the target, and its armour-piercing capabilities at 1,500 meters are still considerable.
  • The use of tracer rounds, since the firing location, if not executed from a well-hidden position, is easily spotted.
  • The escape route was chosen at random, with the machine-gun in full sight and the support vehicle flashing its hazard lights.
  • The gathering of so many men at the same place after such an attack was another factor in the getaway’s failure.[1]

Aftermath

During the funeral services for O’Donnell and O’Farrell in Coalisland, the parish priest criticised the security forces for what happened at Clonoe church, which led to the deaths of the four men. The priest, Father MacLarnon, then appealed to republicans to replace “the politics of confrontation” with “the politics of cooperation”.[13] While Francis Molloy, a local Sinn Féin councillor, walked out of the church in protest, leading republicans Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness remained in their seats. There were many armed RUC officers outside the church during the funeral, the RUC having changed its policy after the Milltown Cemetery attack. This show of force was criticised as it “ensured new young recruits to the IRA”.[1]

This was the last time that IRA members were killed by the SAS in Northern Ireland,[14] although growing tension between local nationalists and the British military led to an open confrontation with soldiers of the Parachute Regiment in Coalisland three months later.

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Loughgall ambush – SAS kill 8 Republican Terrorists

Loughall Attack

New inquests into deaths of civilian and IRA men

The BBC  News has today reported that a New Inquest is to be held in the deaths of eight IRA terrorist.

Click anyway to read story on BBC News

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Loughgall: Provo scum ‘fired first at SAS’

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Does that mean  there will be  new enquires  into the 1000’s of innocent victims whom the IRA and other Republican Terrorist slaughtered on the street of Belfast & throughout mainland Britain ?

These Terrorists were in the act of launching  an attack on the village’s Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base and in my opinion these merchants of death got exactly what they deserved.

 

Van where eight IRA men were shot dead

They have killed countless innocent members of the Armed Forces and destroyed the lives of 1000’s of others and yet their families are bleating on about the poor dears getting a taste of their own medicine. It infuriates me that a law firm would even consider representing these murderers  and their families.

They choose to live by the sword and they died by the sword and good riddance to them.

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An aerial view of the aftermath of the IRA ambush at Loughgall RUC station in 1987

The Loughgall ambush took place on 8 May 1987 in the village of Loughgall, Northern Ireland. An eight-man unit of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) launched an attack on the village’s Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base. Three IRA members drove a digger with a bomb in its bucket through the base’s perimeter fence, while the rest of the unit arrived in a van and fired on the building. As the bomb exploded, the IRA unit was ambushed and killed by a 36-man unit of the British Army‘s Special Air Service (SAS). The British Army and RUC had received detailed intelligence about the IRA’s plans and had been waiting in hidden positions. A civilian was also killed by the SAS after unwittingly driving into the ambush zone. The joint SAS and RUC operation was codenamed Operation Judy.[4][5] It was the IRA’s greatest loss of life in a single incident during the Troubles

– Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in this post / documentary  are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

Background and preparations

The Provisional IRA East Tyrone Brigade was active mainly in eastern County Tyrone and neighbouring parts of County Armagh. By the mid-1980s it had become one of the IRA’s most professional and effective units. Members of the unit, such as Jim Lynagh and Pádraig McKearney, advocated a strategy of destroying bases and preventing them being rebuilt or repaired, thus “denying ground” to British forces.[3][7] In 1985, Patrick Joseph Kelly became its commander and began implementing the strategy. In 1985 and 1986, it carried out two major attacks on RUC bases described by author Mark Urban as “spectaculars”.[8] The first was an attack on the RUC barracks in Ballygawley on 7 December 1985. The second was an attack on an RUC base at The Birches on 11 August 1986. In both attacks, the bases were raked with gunfire and then destroyed with a bomb. In the attack at The Birches, they had breached the base’s perimeter fence with a digger that had a bomb in its bucket.[7] It planned to use the same tactic in an attack on the lightly-manned Loughgall base.[7][9]

The British security forces, however, had received detailed and accurate intelligence about the IRA’s plans.[4] It is believed that this was obtained by RUC Special Branch and the British Army’s Special Reconnaissance Unit (SRU).[7] It has been alleged that the security forces had a double agent inside the IRA unit, and that he was killed by the SAS in the ambush.[10] Other sources claim that the security forces had instead learned of the ambush through other surveillance methods.[11]

On 7 May, the RUC base was secretly evacuated and about 36 SAS soldiers, as well as officers from the RUC’s Mobile Support Unit (MSU), were deployed.[3] The MSU was the RUC’s equivalent of the SAS. Most of the soldiers and officers were hidden around the base, with one team inside and others hidden along the IRA’s anticipated route.[4]

The IRA’s attack involved two teams. One team would drive a digger with a bomb in its bucket through the base’s perimeter fence and light the fuse. At the same time, the other would arrive in a van and open fire on the base. Both teams would then leave the area in the van.[2] The van and digger that would be used were hijacked in the hours leading up to the attack.[2] The van, a blue Toyota HiAce, was taken from a business in Dungannon. The digger (a backhoe loader) was taken from a farm at Lislasly Road, about two miles west of Loughgall. Two IRA members stayed at the farm to stop the owners raising the alarm. IRA member Declan Arthurs drove the digger, while two others drove ahead of him in a scout car. The rest of the unit travelled in the van from another location, presumably also with a scout car.[2]

Ambush

The two IRA teams arrived in Loughgall from the northeast shortly after 7PM.[2] All were armed and wearing bulletproof vests, boilersuits, gloves and balaclavas.[2] The IRA men drove past the RUC base a number of times for reconnaissance.[2][4] At about 7:15, Declan Arthurs drove the digger towards the base, with Gerard O’Callaghan and Tony Gormley riding alongside.[2] In the front bucket was 200 lb (90 kg) of semtex inside an oil drum, wired to two 40-second fuses. The other five followed in the van: unit commander Patrick Kelly, Jim Lynagh, Pádraig McKearney, Eugene Kelly and Seamus Donnelly. The digger crashed through the fence and the fuses were lit. The van stopped a short distance ahead and—according to the British security forces—three of the team jumped out and fired on the building.[4] Author Raymond Murray, however, disputes this.[2] Within seconds, the SAS opened fire from a number of hidden positions with M16 and H&K G3 rifles and L7A2 general-purpose machine guns. The bomb detonated, destroying the digger along with much of the building, and injuring three members of the security forces.[12]

The SAS fired about 1,200 rounds at the IRA unit, riddling the van with bullets.[13] The eight IRA members were killed in the hail of gunfire; all had multiple wounds and were shot in the head.[2][14] Seamus Donnelly managed to escape into the football field beside the road, but was shot dead there.[2] It has been alleged that three of the wounded IRA members were shot dead as they lay on the ground after surrendering.[15] According to author Raymond Murray, citing Jim Cusack’s article in The Irish Times of 5 June 1987, the IRA members in the scout cars escaped.[2]

Two civilians travelling in a car were also shot by the SAS. The two brothers, Anthony and Oliver Hughes, were driving back from work and were wearing blue overalls like the IRA unit.[2] About 130 yards from the base, SAS members opened fire on them from behind, killing Anthony (the driver) and badly wounding Oliver.[2] The SAS fired about 50 rounds at them from a garden.[2] The villagers had not been told of the operation and no attempt had been made to evacuate anyone, or to seal-off the ambush zone, as this might have alerted the IRA.[5] Anthony’s widow was later compensated by the British Government for the death of her husband.[2][16]

The security forces recovered one firearm from each dead IRA member at the scene: three H&K G3 rifles, one FN FAL rifle, two FN FNC rifles, a Franchi SPAS-12T shotgun and a Ruger Security-Six revolver. The RUC linked the guns to seven killings and twelve attempted killings in the Mid-Ulster area.[1] The Ruger had been stolen from Reserve RUC officer William Clement, killed two years earlier in the attack on Ballygawley RUC base by the same IRA unit.[17] It was found that another of the guns had been used in the killing of Harold Henry, a key contractor to the British Army and RUC in Northern Ireland.[18]

The re-built Loughgall PSNI base in 2010

Aftermath

The East Tyrone Brigade continued to be active until the last Provisional IRA ceasefire ten years later. SAS operations against the IRA also continued. The IRA searched to find the informer it believed to be among them, although it has been suggested that the informer, if there ever was one, had been killed in the ambush.[10] The RUC station was attacked again on 5 September 1990, when a van bomb caused widespread damage and wounded seven constables.[19][19][20]

The IRA members became known as the “Loughgall Martyrs” among republicans.[21] The men’s relatives considered their killings to be part of a deliberate shoot-to-kill policy by the security forces. Thousands of people attended their funerals, the biggest republican funerals in Northern Ireland since those of the IRA hunger strikers of 1981.[22] Gerry Adams, in his graveside oration, gave a speech stating the British Government understood that it could buy off the government of the Republic of Ireland, which he described as the “shoneen clan” (pro-British), but added “it does not understand the Jim Lynaghs, the Pádraig McKearneys or the Séamus McElwaines. It thinks it can defeat them. It never will.”[23]

Shortly after the ambush the Provisional IRA released a statement saying: “volunteers who shot their way out of the ambush and escaped saw other volunteers being shot on the ground after being captured”.[24]

In 2001 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that ten IRA members, including the eight killed at Loughgall, had their human rights violated by the failure of the British Government to conduct a proper investigation into their deaths.[14] The court did not make any finding that these deaths amounted to unlawful killing.[25] In December 2011, Northern Ireland’s Historical Enquiries Team found that not only did the IRA team fire first but that they could not have been safely arrested. They concluded that the SAS were justified in opening fire.[26]

Loughgall RUC station was re-built, transferred to the Police Service of Northern Ireland in 2001, and shut in August 2009.[27] In April 2011 it was sold for private development

The IRA members became known as the “Loughgall Martyrs” among republicans.[21] The men’s relatives considered their killings to be part of a deliberate shoot-to-kill policy by the security forces. Thousands of people attended their funerals, the biggest republican funerals in Northern Ireland since those of the IRA hunger strikers of 1981.[22] Gerry Adams, in his graveside oration, gave a speech stating the British Government understood that it could buy off the government of the Republic of Ireland, which he described as the “shoneen clan” (pro-British), but added “it does not understand the Jim Lynaghs, the Pádraig McKearneys or the Séamus McElwaines. It thinks it can defeat them. It never will.”[23]

Shortly after the ambush the Provisional IRA released a statement saying: “volunteers who shot their way out of the ambush and escaped saw other volunteers being shot on the ground after being captured”.[24]

In 2001 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that ten IRA members, including the eight killed at Loughgall, had their human rights violated by the failure of the British Government to conduct a proper investigation into their deaths.[14] The court did not make any finding that these deaths amounted to unlawful killing.[25] In December 2011, Northern Ireland’s Historical Enquiries Team found that not only did the IRA team fire first but that they could not have been safely arrested. They concluded that the SAS were justified in opening fire.[26]

Loughgall RUC station was re-built, transferred to the Police Service of Northern Ireland in 2001, and shut in August 2009.[27] In April 2011 it was sold for private development.[28]

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Gulf War – History and Background: Includes Three Videos

The Gulf War

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20th Century Battlefields – Gulf War (1991) full video

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The Hussein Family From Life To Death – Horrors of Hussein –

Full History Documentary

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The Gulf War (2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991), codenamed Operation Desert Shield (2 August 1990 – 17 January 1991) for operations leading to the buildup of troops and defense of Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Storm (17 January 1991 – 28 February 1991) in its combat phase, was a war waged by coalition forces from 34 nations led by the United States against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion and annexation of Kuwait.

The war is also known under other names, such as the Persian Gulf War, First Gulf War, Gulf War I, Kuwait War, First Iraq War, or Iraq War[13][14][15][a] before the term “Iraq War” became identified instead with the 2003 Iraq War (also referred to in the U.S. as “Operation Iraqi Freedom“).[16] The Iraqi Army‘s occupation of Kuwait that began 2 August 1990 was met with international condemnation, and brought immediate economic sanctions against Iraq by members of the U.N. Security Council. U.S. President George H. W. Bush deployed U.S. forces into Saudi Arabia and urged other countries to send their own forces to the scene. An array of nations joined the Coalition, the largest military alliance since World War II. The great majority of the Coalition’s military forces were from the U.S., with Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Egypt as leading contributors, in that order. Saudi Arabia paid around US$36 billion of the US$60 billion cost.[17]

The war was marked by the introduction of live news broadcasts from the front lines of the battle, principally by the U.S. network CNN.[18][19][20] The war has also earned the nickname Video Game War after the daily broadcast of images from cameras on board U.S. bombers during Operation Desert Storm.[21][22]

The initial conflict to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait began with an aerial and naval bombardment on 17 January 1991, continuing for five weeks. This was followed by a ground assault on 24 February. This was a decisive victory for the Coalition forces, who drove the Iraqi military from Kuwait and advanced into Iraqi territory. The Coalition ceased its advance and declared a cease-fire 100 hours after the ground campaign started. Aerial and ground combat was confined to Iraq, Kuwait, and areas on Saudi Arabia’s border. Iraq launched Scud missiles against Coalition military targets in Saudi Arabia and against Israel.

Background

Throughout the Cold War, Iraq had been an ally of the Soviet Union, and there was a history of friction between it and the United States. The U.S. was concerned with Iraq’s position on Israeli–Palestinian politics, and its disapproval of the nature of the peace between Israel and Egypt.[citation needed] The U.S. also disliked Iraqi support for many Arab and Palestinian militant groups such as Abu Nidal, which led to Iraq’s inclusion on the developing U.S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism on 29 December 1979. The U.S. remained officially neutral after Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980, which became the Iran–Iraq War, although it provided resources, political support, and some “non-military” aircraft to Iraq.[25] In March 1982, Iran began a successful counteroffensive (Operation Undeniable Victory), and the U.S. increased its support for Iraq to prevent Iran from forcing a surrender. In a U.S. bid to open full diplomatic relations with Iraq, the country was removed from the U.S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. Ostensibly this was because of improvement in the regime’s record, although former U.S. Assistant Defense Secretary Noel Koch later stated, “No one had any doubts about [the Iraqis’] continued involvement in terrorism … The real reason was to help them succeed in the war against Iran.”[26] With Iraq’s newfound success in the war, and the Iranian rebuff of a peace offer in July, arms sales to Iraq reached a record spike in 1982. When Iraqi President Saddam Hussein expelled Abu Nidal to Syria at the U.S.’ request in November 1983, the Reagan administration sent Donald Rumsfeld to meet Saddam as a special envoy and to cultivate ties. By the time the ceasefire with Iran was signed in August 1988, Iraq was heavily debt-ridden and tensions within society were rising.[27] Most of its debt was owed to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Iraq pressured both nations to forgive the debts, but they refused.[28]

Map of Kuwait

The Iraq–Kuwait dispute also involved Iraqi claims to Kuwait as Iraqi territory.[25] Kuwait had been a part of the Ottoman Empire‘s province of Basra, something that Iraq claimed made it rightful Iraq territory.[29] Kuwait’s ruling dynasty, the al-Sabah family, had concluded a protectorate agreement in 1899 that assigned responsibility for its foreign affairs to the United Kingdom. The UK drew the border between the two countries in 1922, making Iraq virtually landlocked.[25] Kuwait rejected Iraqi attempts to secure further provisions in the region.[29]

Iraq also accused Kuwait of exceeding its OPEC quotas for oil production. In order for the cartel to maintain its desired price of $18 a barrel, discipline was required. The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait were consistently overproducing; the latter at least in part to repair losses caused by Iranian attacks in the Iran–Iraq War and to pay for the losses of an economic scandal. The result was a slump in the oil price – as low as $10 a barrel – with a resulting loss of $7 billion a year to Iraq, equal to its 1989 balance of payments deficit.[30] Resulting revenues struggled to support the government’s basic costs, let alone repair Iraq’s damaged infrastructure. Jordan and Iraq both looked for more discipline, with little success.[31] The Iraqi government described it as a form of economic warfare,[31] which it claimed was aggravated by Kuwait slant-drilling across the border into Iraq’s Rumaila oil field.[32] At the same time, Saddam looked for closer ties with those Arab states that had supported Iraq in the war. This was supported by the U.S., who believed that Iraqi ties with pro-Western Gulf states would help bring and maintain Iraq inside the U.S.’ sphere of influence.[33]

In 1989, it appeared that Saudi-Iraqi relations, strong during the war, would be maintained. A pact of non-interference and non-aggression was signed between the countries, followed by a Kuwaiti-Iraqi deal for Iraq to supply Kuwait with water for drinking and irrigation, although a request for Kuwait to lease Iraq Umm Qasr was rejected.[33] Saudi-backed development projects were hampered by Iraq’s large debts, even with the demobilization of 200,000 soldiers. Iraq also looked to increase arms production so as to become an exporter, although the success of these projects was also restrained by Iraq’s obligations; in Iraq, resentment to OPEC’s controls mounted.[34]

Donald Rumsfeld as U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, meets Saddam Hussein on 19–20 December 1983.

Iraq’s relations with its Arab neighbors – in particular Egypt – were degraded by mounting violence in Iraq against expatriate groups, well-employed during the war, by Iraqi unemployed, among them demobilized soldiers. These events drew little notice outside the Arab world because of fast-moving events in Eastern Europe. The U.S. did, however, begin to condemn Iraq’s human rights record, including the well-known use of torture.[35] The UK also condemned the execution of Farzad Bazoft, a journalist working for the British newspaper The Observer.[25] Following Saddam’s declaration that “binary chemical weapons” would be used on Israel if it used military force against Iraq, Washington halted part of its funding.[36] A U.N. mission to the Israeli-occupied territories, where riots had resulted in Palestinian deaths, was vetoed by the U.S., making Iraq deeply skeptical of U.S. foreign policy aims in the region, combined with the U.S.’ reliance on Middle Eastern energy reserves.[37]

In early July 1990, Iraq complained about Kuwait’s behavior, such as not respecting their quota, and openly threatened to take military action. On the 23rd, the CIA reported that Iraq had moved 30,000 troops to the Iraq-Kuwait border, and the U.S. naval fleet in the Persian Gulf was placed on alert. Saddam believed an anti-Iraq conspiracy was developing – Kuwait had begun talks with Iran, and Iraq’s rival Syria had arranged a visit to Egypt.[38] Upon review by the Secretary of Defense, it was found that Syria indeed planned a strike against Iraq in the coming days. Saddam immediately used funding to incorporate central intelligence into Syria and ultimately prevented the impending air strike. On 15 July 1990, Saddam’s government laid out its combined objections to the Arab League, including that policy moves were costing Iraq $1 billion a year, that Kuwait was still using the Rumaila oil field, that loans made by the UAE and Kuwait could not be considered debts to its “Arab brothers”.[38] He threatened force against Kuwait and the UAE saying “The policies of some Arab rulers are American … They are inspired by America to undermine Arab interests and security.”[39] The U.S. sent aerial refuelling planes and combat ships to the Persian Gulf in response to these threats.[40] Discussions in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, mediated on the Arab League’s behalf by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, were held on 31 July and led Mubarak to believe that a peaceful course could be established.[41]

On the 25th, Saddam met with April Glaspie, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, in Baghdad. The Iraqi leader attacked American policy with regards to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates:

“So what can it mean when America says it will now protect its friends? It can only mean prejudice against Iraq. This stance plus maneuvers and statements which have been made has encouraged the UAE and Kuwait to disregard Iraqi rights … If you use pressure, we will deploy pressure and force. We know that you can harm us although we do not threaten you. But we too can harm you. Everyone can cause harm according to their ability and their size. We cannot come all the way to you in the United States, but individual Arabs may reach you … We do not place America among the enemies. We place it where we want our friends to be and we try to be friends. But repeated American statements last year made it apparent that America did not regard us as friends.”[42]

Glaspie replied:

“I know you need funds. We understand that and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. But we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait … Frankly, we can only see that you have deployed massive troops in the south. Normally that would not be any of our business. But when this happens in the context of what you said on your national day, then when we read the details in the two letters of the Foreign Minister, then when we see the Iraqi point of view that the measures taken by the UAE and Kuwait is, in the final analysis, parallel to military aggression against Iraq, then it would be reasonable for me to be concerned.” [42]

Saddam stated that he would attempt last-ditch negotiations with the Kuwaitis but Iraq “would not accept death”.[42]

According to Glaspie’s own account, she stated in reference to the precise border between Kuwait and Iraq, “…  that she had served in Kuwait 20 years before; ‘then, as now, we took no position on these Arab affairs’.”[43] Glaspie similarly believed that war was not imminent.[41]

Invasion of Kuwait

Main article: Invasion of Kuwait

Iraqi Army T-72M main battle tanks. The T-72M tank was a common Iraqi battle tank used in the Gulf War.

An Iraqi Air Force Bell 214ST transport helicopter, after being captured by a US Marine Corps unit at the start of the ground phase of Operation Desert Storm.

The result of the Jeddah talks was an Iraqi demand for $10 billion to cover the lost revenues from Rumaila; the Kuwaiti response was to offer $9 billion. The Iraqi response was to immediately order the invasion.[44] On 2 August 1990, Iraq launched the invasion by bombing Kuwait’s capital, Kuwait City.

At the time of the invasion, the Kuwaiti military was believed to have numbered 16,000 men, arranged into three armored, one mechanised infantry and one under-strength artillery brigade.[45] The pre-war strength of the Kuwait Air Force was around 2,200 Kuwaiti personnel, with 80 aircraft and forty helicopters.[45] In spite of Iraqi saber-rattling, Kuwait didn’t have its forces on alert; the army had been stood down on 19 July.[46]

By 1988, at the Iran–Iraq War’s end, the Iraqi Army was the world’s fourth largest army; it consisted of 955,000 standing soldiers and 650,000 paramilitary forces in the Popular Army. According to John Childs and André Corvisier, a low estimate shows the Iraqi Army capable of fielding 4,500 tanks, 484 combat aircraft and 232 combat helicopters.[47] According to Michael Knights, a high estimate shows the Iraqi Army capable of fielding one million men and 850,000 reservists, 5,500 tanks, 3,000 artillery pieces, 700 combat aircraft and helicopters; and held 53 divisions, 20 special-forces brigades, and several regional militias, and had a strong air defense.[48]

Iraqi commandos infiltrated the Kuwaiti border first to prepare for the major units which began the attack at midnight. The Iraqi attack had two prongs, with the primary attack force driving south straight for Kuwait City down the main highway, and a supporting attack force entering Kuwait farther west, but then turning and driving east, cutting off Kuwait City from the country’s southern half. The commander of a Kuwaiti armored battalion, 35th Armoured Brigade, deployed them against the Iraqi attack and was able to conduct a robust defense (Battle of the Bridges), near Al Jahra, west of Kuwait City.[49]

Kuwaiti aircraft scrambled to meet the invading force, but approximately 20% were lost or captured. A few combat sorties were flown against Iraqi ground forces.[50]

The main Iraqi thrust into Kuwait City was conducted by commandos deployed by helicopters and boats to attack the city from the sea, while other divisions seized the airports and two airbases. The Iraqis attacked the Dasman Palace, the Royal Residence of Kuwait’s Emir, Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, which was defended by the Emiri Guard supported with M-84 tanks. In the process, the Iraqis killed Fahad Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Emir’s youngest brother.

Within 12 hours, most resistance had ended within Kuwait and the royal family had fled, leaving Iraq in control of most of Kuwait.[44] After two days of intense combat, most of the Kuwaiti military were either overrun by the Iraqi Republican Guard, or had escaped to Saudi Arabia. The Emir and key ministers were able to get out and head south along the highway for refuge in Saudi Arabia. Iraqi ground forces consolidated their control of Kuwait City, then headed south and redeployed along the Saudi border. After the decisive Iraqi victory, Saddam initially installed a puppet regime known as the “Provisional Government of Free Kuwait” before installing his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid as Kuwait’s governor on 8 August.

Kuwaiti resistance movement

Kuwaitis founded a local armed resistance movement following the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait.[51][52][53] The Kuwaiti resistance’s casualty rate far exceeded that of the coalition military forces and Western hostages.[54] The resistance predominantly consisted of ordinary citizens who lacked any form of training and supervision.[54] The majority of Kuwaitis who stayed in Kuwait during the Gulf War were Shias.[55]

Run-up to the war

Diplomatic means

A key element of U.S. political-military and energy economic planning occurred in early 1984. The Iran–Iraq war had been going on for five years and there were significant casualties on both sides, reaching hundreds of thousands. Within President Ronald Reagan‘s National Security Council concern was growing that the war could spread beyond the boundaries of the two belligerents. A National Security Planning Group meeting was formed, chaired by then Vice President George H. W. Bush to review U.S. options. It was determined that there was a high likelihood that the conflict would spread into Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, but that the United States had little capability to defend the region. Furthermore, it was determined that a prolonged war in the region would induce much higher oil prices and threaten the fragile recovery of the world economy which was just beginning to gain momentum. On 22 May 1984, President Reagan was briefed on the project conclusions in the Oval Office by William Flynn Martin who had served as the head of the NSC staff that organized the study. The full declassified presentation can be seen here.[56] The conclusions were threefold: first oil stocks needed to be increased among members of the International Energy Agency and, if necessary, released early in the event of oil market disruption; second the United States needed to beef up the security of friendly Arab states in the region and thirdly an embargo should be placed on sales of military equipment to Iran and Iraq. The Plan was approved by the President Reagan and later affirmed by the G-7 leaders headed by Great Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the London Summit of 1984. The plan was implemented and became the basis for U.S. preparedness to respond to the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1991.

Within hours of the invasion, Kuwait and U.S. delegations requested a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, which passed Resolution 660, condemning the invasion and demanding a withdrawal of Iraqi troops.[57][58] On 3 August, the Arab League passed its own resolution, which called for a solution to the conflict from within the League, and warned against outside intervention; Iraq and Libya were the only two Arab League states which opposed a resolution for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait. The PLO opposed it as well.[59] The Arab states of Yemen and Jordan – a Western ally which bordered Iraq and relied on the country for economic support[60] – opposed military intervention from non-Arab states.[61] The Arab state of Sudan aligned itself with Saddam.[60]

On 6 August, Resolution 661 placed economic sanctions on Iraq.[58][62] Resolution 665[58] followed soon after, which authorized a naval blockade to enforce the sanctions. It said the “use of measures commensurate to the specific circumstances as may be necessary … to halt all inward and outward maritime shipping in order to inspect and verify their cargoes and destinations and to ensure strict implementation of resolution 661.”[58][63]

President Bush visiting American troops in Saudi Arabia on Thanksgiving Day, 1990.

From the beginning, U.S. officials insisted on a total Iraqi pullout from Kuwait, without any linkage to other Middle Eastern problems, fearing any concessions would strengthen Iraqi influence in the region for years to come.[64]

On 12 August 1990, Saddam “propose[d] that all cases of occupation, and those cases that have been portrayed as occupation, in the region, be resolved simultaneously”. Specifically, he called for Israel to withdraw from occupied territories in Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon, Syria to withdraw from Lebanon, and “mutual withdrawals by Iraq and Iran and arrangement for the situation in Kuwait.” He also called for a replacement of U.S. troops that mobilized in Saudi Arabia in response to Kuwait’s invasion with “an Arab force”, as long as that force did not involve Egypt. Additionally, he requested an “immediate freeze of all boycott and siege decisions” and a general normalization of relations with Iraq.[65] From the beginning of the crisis, President Bush was strongly opposed to any “linkage” between Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait and the Palestinian issue.[66]

Saddam Hussein detained several Westerners, with video footage shown on state television

On 23 August, Saddam appeared on state television with Western hostages to whom he had refused exit visas. In the video, he asks a young British boy, Stuart Lockwood, whether he is getting his milk, and goes on to say, through his interpreter, “We hope your presence as guests here will not be for too long. Your presence here, and in other places, is meant to prevent the scourge of war.”[67]

Another Iraqi proposal communicated in August 1990 was delivered to U.S. National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft by an unidentified Iraqi official. The official communicated to the White House that Iraq would “withdraw from Kuwait and allow foreigners to leave” provided that the U.N. lifted sanctions, allowed “guaranteed access to the Persian Gulf through the Kuwaiti islands of Bubiyan and Warbah”, and allowed Iraq to “gain full control of the Rumaila oil field that extends slightly into Kuwaiti territory”. The proposal also “include[d] offers to negotiate an oil agreement with the United States ‘satisfactory to both nations’ national security interests,’ develop a joint plan ‘to alleviate Iraq’s economical and financial problems’ and ‘jointly work on the stability of the gulf.'”[68]

In December 1990, Iraq made a proposal to withdraw from Kuwait provided that foreign troops left the region and that an agreement was reached regarding the Palestinian problem and the dismantlement of both Israel’s and Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. The White House rejected the proposal.[69] The PLO‘s Yasser Arafat expressed that neither he nor Saddam insisted that solving the Israeli–Palestinian issues should be a precondition to solving the issues in Kuwait, though he did acknowledge a “strong link” between these problems.[70]

Ultimately, the U.S. stuck to its position that there would be no negotiations until Iraq withdrew from Kuwait and that they should not grant Iraq concessions, lest they give the impression that Iraq benefited from its military campaign.[64] Also, when U.S. Secretary of State James Baker met with Tariq Aziz in Geneva, Switzerland, for last minute peace talks in early 1991, Aziz reportedly made no concrete proposals and did not outline any hypothetical Iraqi moves.[71]

On 29 November 1990, the Security Council passed Resolution 678 which gave Iraq until 15 January 1991 to withdraw from Kuwait and empowered states to use “all necessary means” to force Iraq out of Kuwait after the deadline.

On 14 January 1991, France proposed that the U.N. Security Council call for “a rapid and massive withdrawal” from Kuwait along with a statement to Iraq that Council members would bring their “active contribution” to a settlement of the region’s other problems, “in particular, of the Arab–Israeli conflict and in particular to the Palestinian problem by convening, at an appropriate moment, an international conference” to assure “the security, stability and development of this region of the world.” The French proposal was supported by Belgium (at the moment one of the rotating Council members), Germany, Spain, Italy, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and several non-aligned nations. The U.S., the UK, and the Soviet Union rejected it; U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Thomas Pickering stated that the French proposal was unacceptable, because it went beyond previous Council resolutions on the Iraqi invasion.[72][73][74] France dropped this proposal when it found “no tangible sign of interest” from Baghdad.[75]

Military means

“Operation Desert Shield” redirects here. For the 2006 operation by the Iraqi insurgency, see Operation Desert Shield (Iraq).

F-15Es parked during Operation Desert Shield.

One of the West’s main concerns was the significant threat Iraq posed to Saudi Arabia. Following Kuwait’s conquest, the Iraqi Army was within easy striking distance of Saudi oil fields. Control of these fields, along with Kuwaiti and Iraqi reserves, would have given Saddam control over the majority of the world’s oil reserves. Iraq also had a number of grievances with Saudi Arabia. The Saudis had lent Iraq some 26 billion dollars during its war with Iran. The Saudis had backed Iraq in that war, as they feared the influence of Shia Iran’s Islamic revolution on its own Shia minority. After the war, Saddam felt he shouldn’t have to repay the loans due to the help he had given the Saudis by fighting Iran.

Soon after his conquest of Kuwait, Saddam began verbally attacking the Saudis. He argued that the U.S.-supported Saudi state was an illegitimate and unworthy guardian of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. He combined the language of the Islamist groups that had recently fought in Afghanistan with the rhetoric Iran had long used to attack the Saudis.[76]

U.S. Army soldiers from the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade during the Gulf War

Acting on the Carter Doctrine‘s policy, and out of fear the Iraqi Army could launch an invasion of Saudi Arabia, U.S. President George H. W. Bush quickly announced that the U.S. would launch a “wholly defensive” mission to prevent Iraq from invading Saudi Arabia under the codename Operation Desert Shield. Operation Desert Shield began on 7 August 1990 when U.S. troops were sent to Saudi Arabia due also to the request of its monarch, King Fahd, who had earlier called for U.S. military assistance.[77] This “wholly defensive” doctrine was quickly abandoned when, on 8 August, Iraq declared Kuwait to be Iraq’s 19th province and Saddam named his cousin, Ali Hassan Al-Majid, as its military-governor.[78]

The U.S. Navy dispatched two naval battle groups built around the aircraft carriers USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and USS Independence to the Persian Gulf, where they were ready by 8 August. The U.S. also sent the battleships USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin to the region. A total of 48 U.S. Air Force F-15s from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, landed in Saudi Arabia, and immediately commenced round the clock air patrols of the Saudi–Kuwait–Iraq border to discourage further Iraqi military advances. They were joined by 36 F-15 A-Ds from the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing at Bitburg, Germany. The Bitburg contingent was based at Al Kharj Air Base, approximately 1-hour southeast of Riyadh. The 36th TFW would be responsible for 11 confirmed Iraqi Air Force aircraft shot down during the war. There were also two Air National Guard units stationed at Al Kharj Air Base, the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing flew bombing missions with 24 F-16s flying 2,000 combat missions and dropping 4 million pounds of munitions, and the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Fighter Wing from Syracuse flew 24 F-16s on bombing missions. Military buildup continued from there, eventually reaching 543,000 troops, twice the number used in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Much of the material was airlifted or carried to the staging areas via fast sealift ships, allowing a quick buildup.

Creating a coalition

Nations that deployed coalition forces or provided support.

A series of U.N. Security Council resolutions and Arab League resolutions were passed regarding Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. One of the most important was Resolution 678, passed on 29 November 1990, which gave Iraq a withdrawal deadline until 15 January 1991, and authorized “all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660”, and a diplomatic formulation authorizing the use of force if Iraq failed to comply.[79]

To ensure that economic backing, Baker went on an eleven-day journey to nine countries that the press dubbed “The Tin Cup Trip”. The first stop was Saudi Arabia, who a month before had already granted permission to the United States to use its facilities. However, Baker believed that Saudi Arabia, an immensely wealthy nation, should assume some of the cost of the military efforts, since one of the most decisive military objectives was defending Saudi Arabia. When Baker asked King Fahd for 15 billion dollars, the King readily agreed, with the promise that Baker ask Kuwait for the same amount.

The next day, 7 September, he did just that, and the Emir of Kuwait, displaced in a Sheraton hotel outside his invaded country, easily agreed. Baker then moved to enter talks with Egypt, whose leadership he considered to be “the moderate voice of the middle east”. President Mubarak of Egypt was furious with Saddam for his invasion of Kuwait, and for the fact that Saddam had assured Mubarak that an invasion was not his intention. Therefore, he was willing to commit troops to the coalition forces to quell Saddam, as well as relieved the United States was willing to forgive his country’s 7.1 billion dollar debt.

After stops in Helsinki and Moscow to smooth out Iraqi demands for a middle-eastern peace conference with Russia (then the Soviet Union), Baker traveled to Syria to discuss its role in the crisis with its President Hafez Assad. Assad had a deep personal enmity towards Saddam, which was defined by the fact that “Saddam had been trying to kill him [Assad] for years”. Harboring this animosity and being impressed with Baker’s diplomatic initiative to visit Damascus (relations had been severed since the 1983 bombing of U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut), Assad agreed to pledge up to 100,000 Syrian troops to the coalition effort. This was a vital step in ensuring Arab states were represented in the coalition.

Baker flew to Rome for a brief visit with the Italians in which he was promised the use of some military equipment, before journeying to Germany to meet with American ally Chancellor Kohl. Although Germany’s constitution (which was brokered essentially by the United States) prohibited military involvement in outside nations, Kohl was willing to repay his gratitude for the United States with a two billion dollar contribution to the coalition’s war effort, as well as further economic and military support of coalition ally Turkey, and the execution of the transport of Egyptian soldiers and ships to the Persian Gulf.[80]

General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. and President George H. W. Bush visit U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia on Thanksgiving Day, 1990.

A coalition of forces opposing Iraq’s aggression was formed, consisting of forces from 34 countries: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Kuwait, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Portugal, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Spain, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the U.S. itself. It was the largest coalition since World War II.[81] U.S. Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. was designated to be the commander of the Coalition forces in the Persian Gulf area. The Soviet Union also supported United States intervention[citation needed] .

Although they did not contribute any forces, Japan and Germany made financial contributions totaling $10 billion and $6.6 billion respectively. U.S. troops represented 73% of the Coalition’s 956,600 troops in Iraq.[82]

Many of the Coalition’s forces were reluctant to join. Some felt that the war was an internal Arab affair, or didn’t want to increase U.S. influence in the Middle East. In the end, however, many nations were persuaded by Iraq’s belligerence towards other Arab states, offers of economic aid or debt forgiveness, and threats to withhold aid.[83]

Justification for intervention

Cheney meets with Prince Sultan, Minister of Defence and Aviation in Saudi Arabia to discuss how to handle the invasion of Kuwait

The U.S. and the U.N. gave several public justifications for involvement in the conflict, the most prominent being the Iraqi violation of Kuwaiti territorial integrity. In addition, the U.S. moved to support its ally Saudi Arabia, whose importance in the region, and as a key supplier of oil, made it of considerable geopolitical importance. Shortly after the Iraqi invasion, U.S. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney made the first of several visits to Saudi Arabia where King Fahd requested U.S. military assistance. During a speech in a special joint session of the U.S. Congress given on 11 September 1990, U.S. President George H. W. Bush summed up the reasons with the following remarks: “Within three days, 120,000 Iraqi troops with 850 tanks had poured into Kuwait and moved south to threaten Saudi Arabia. It was then that I decided to act to check that aggression.”[84]

The Pentagon stated that satellite photos showing a buildup of Iraqi forces along the border were this information’s source, but this was later alleged to be false. A reporter for the St. Petersburg Times acquired two commercial Soviet satellite images made at the time in question, which showed nothing but empty desert.[85]

Gen. Colin Powell (left), Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., and Paul Wolfowitz (right) listen as Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney addresses reporters regarding the 1991 Gulf War.

Other justifications for foreign involvement included Iraq’s history of human rights abuses under Saddam. Iraq was also known to possess biological weapons and chemical weapons, which Saddam had used against Iranian troops during the Iran–Iraq War and against his own country’s Kurdish population in the Al-Anfal Campaign. Iraq was also known to have a nuclear weapons program, but the report about it from January 1991 was partially declassified by the CIA on 26 May 2001.[86]

Although there were human rights abuses committed in Kuwait by the invading Iraqi military, the alleged incidents which received most publicity in the U.S. were inventions of the public relations firm hired by the government of Kuwait to influence U.S. opinion in favor of military intervention. Shortly after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the organization Citizens for a Free Kuwait was formed in the U.S. It hired the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton for about $11 million, paid by Kuwait’s government.[87]

Among many other means of influencing U.S. opinion (distributing books on Iraqi atrocities to U.S. soldiers deployed in the region, ‘Free Kuwait’ T-shirts and speakers to college campuses, and dozens of video news releases to television stations), the firm arranged for an appearance before a group of members of the U.S. Congress in which a woman identifying herself as a nurse working in the Kuwait City hospital described Iraqi soldiers pulling babies out of incubators and letting them die on the floor.[88]

The story was an influence in tipping both the public and Congress towards a war with Iraq: six Congressmen said the testimony was enough for them to support military action against Iraq and seven Senators referenced the testimony in debate. The Senate supported the military actions in a 52–47 vote. A year after the war, however, this allegation was revealed to be a fabrication. The woman who had testified was found to be a member of Kuwait’s Royal Family, in fact the daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador to the U.S.[88] She hadn’t lived in Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion.

The details of the Hill & Knowlton public relations campaign, including the incubator testimony, were published in John R. MacArthur‘s Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1992), and came to wide public attention when an Op-ed by MacArthur was published in The New York Times. This prompted a reexamination by Amnesty International, which had originally promoted an account alleging even greater numbers of babies torn from incubators than the original fake testimony. After finding no evidence to support it, the organization issued a retraction. President Bush then repeated the incubator allegations on television.

At the same time, the Iraqi Army committed several well-documented crimes during its occupation of Kuwait, such as the summary execution without trial of three brothers after which their bodies were stacked in a pile and left to decay in a public street.[89] Iraqi troops also ransacked and looted private Kuwaiti homes; one residence was repeatedly defecated in.[90] A resident later commented, “The whole thing was violence for the sake of violence, destruction for the sake of destruction … Imagine a surrealistic painting by Salvador Dalí“.[91]

Early battles

Air campaign

Main article: Gulf War air campaign

The USAF F-117 Nighthawk, one of the key players in Desert Storm.

The Gulf War began with an extensive aerial bombing campaign on 17 January 1991. The Coalition flew over 100,000 sorties, dropping 88,500 tons of bombs,[92] and widely destroying military and civilian infrastructure.[93] The air campaign was commanded by USAF Lieutenant General Chuck Horner, who briefly served as U.S. Central Command‘s Commander-in-Chief – Forward while General Schwarzkopf was still in the U.S.

A day after the deadline set in Resolution 678, the Coalition launched a massive air campaign, which began the general offensive codenamed Operation Desert Storm. The first priority for Coalition forces was the destruction of Iraq’s Air Force and anti-aircraft facilities. The sorties were launched mostly from Saudi Arabia and the six Coalition carrier battle groups (CVBG) in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.

An Iraqi T-54A or Type 59 tank lies destroyed after a Coalition bombing attack during Operation Desert Storm.

The next Coalition targets were command and communication facilities. Saddam Hussein had closely micromanaged Iraqi forces in the Iran–Iraq War, and initiative at lower levels was discouraged. Coalition planners hoped that Iraqi resistance would quickly collapse if deprived of command and control.

The air campaign’s third and largest phase targeted military targets throughout Iraq and Kuwait: Scud missile launchers, weapons research facilities, and naval forces. About one-third of the Coalition’s air power was devoted to attacking Scuds, some of which were on trucks and therefore difficult to locate. U.S. and British special operations forces had been covertly inserted into western Iraq to aid in the search for and destruction of Scuds.

Iraqi anti-aircraft defenses, including Man-portable air-defense systems, were surprisingly ineffective against Coalition aircraft and the Coalition suffered only 75 aircraft losses in over 100,000 sorties, 44 of which were the result of Iraqi action. Two of these losses are the result of aircraft colliding with the ground while evading Iraqi ground fired weapons.[94][95] One of these losses is a confirmed air-air victory.[96]

Iraqi missile strikes on Israel and Saudi Arabia

Scud Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) with missile in upright position.

Iraq’s government made no secret that it would attack if invaded. Prior to the war’s start, Tariq Aziz, Iraq’s English-speaking Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, was asked in the aftermath of the failed U.S.–Iraq peace talks in Geneva, Switzerland, by a reporter. “Mr. Foreign Minister, if war starts … will you attack?” His response was, “Yes, absolutely, yes.”[97][98]

Five hours after the first attacks, Iraq’s state radio broadcast declaring that “The dawn of victory nears as this great showdown begins.” Iraq fired eight missiles the next day. These missile attacks were to continue throughout the war. A total of 88 Scud missiles were fired by Iraq during the war’s seven weeks.[99]

Iraq hoped to provoke a military response from Israel. The Iraqi government hoped that many Arab states would withdraw from the Coalition, as they would be reluctant to fight alongside Israel.[66] Following the first attacks, Israeli Air Force jets were deployed to patrol the northern airspace with Iraq. Israel prepared to militarily retaliate, as its policy for the previous forty years had always been retaliation. However, President Bush pressured Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir not to retaliate and withdraw Israeli jets, fearing that if Israel attacked Iraq, the other Arab nations would either desert the Coalition or join Iraq. It was also feared that if Israel used Syrian or Jordanian airspace to attack Iraq, they would intervene in the war on Iraq’s side or attack Israel. The Coalition promised to deploy Patriot missiles to defend Israel if it refrained from responding to the Scud attacks.[100][101]

Israeli civilians taking shelter from rockets (left) and aftermath of attack in Ramat Gan, Tel Aviv (right)

The Scud missiles targeting Israel were relatively ineffective, as firing at extreme range resulted in a dramatic reduction in accuracy and payload. According to the Jewish Virtual Library, a total of 74 Israelis died as a result of the Iraqi attacks: two directly and the rest from suffocation and heart attacks.[102] Approximately 230 Israelis were injured.[103] Extensive property damage was also caused, and according to Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Damage to general property consisted of 1,302 houses, 6,142 apartments, 23 public buildings, 200 shops and 50 cars.”[104] It was feared that Iraq would fire missiles filled with nerve agents such as sarin. As a result, Israel’s government issued gas masks to its citizens. When the first Iraqi missiles hit Israel, some people injected themselves with an antidote for nerve gas. It has been suggested that the sturdy construction techniques used in Israeli cities, coupled with the fact that Scuds were only launched at night, played an important role in limiting the number of casualties from Scud attacks.[12]

Aftermath of an Iraq Armed forces strike on U.S. barracks.

In response to the threat of Scuds on Israel, the U.S. rapidly sent a Patriot missile air defense artillery battalion to Israel along with two batteries of MIM-104 Patriot missiles for the protection of civilians.[105] The Royal Netherlands Air Force also deployed a Patriot missile squadron to Israel and Turkey. The Dutch Defense Ministry later stated that the military use of the Patriot missile system was largely ineffective, but its psychological value for the affected populations was high.[106]

Coalition air forces were also extensively exercised in “Scud hunts” in the Iraqi desert, trying to locate the camouflaged trucks before they fired their missiles at Israel or Saudi Arabia. On the ground, special operations forces also infiltrated Iraq, tasked with locating and destroying Scuds. Once special operations were combined with air patrols, the number of attacks fell sharply, then increased slightly as Iraqi forces adjusted to Coalition tactics.

As the Scud attacks continued, the Israelis grew increasingly impatient, and considered taking unilateral military action against Iraq. On 22 January 1991, a Scud missile and two Coalition Patriots that had been fired to intercept it but missed hit the Israeli city of Ramat Gan. The incident caused three elderly people to suffer fatal heart attacks. Another 96 people were injured, and 20 apartment buildings were damaged.[107][108] After this attack, the Israelis warned that if the U.S. failed to stop the attacks, they would. At one point, Israeli commandos were loaded onto helicopters prepared to fly into Iraq, but the mission was called off after a phone call from U.S. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, reporting on the extent of Coalition efforts to destroy Scuds and emphasizing that Israeli intervention could endanger U.S. forces.[109]

In addition to the attacks on Israel, 47 Scud missiles were fired into Saudi Arabia, and one missile was fired at Bahrain and another at Qatar. The missiles were fired at both military and civilian targets. One Saudi civilian was killed, and 78 others were injured. No casualties were reported in Bahrain or Qatar. The Saudi government issued all its citizens and expatriates with gas masks in the event of Iraq using missiles with chemical or biological warheads. The government broadcast alerts and ‘all clear’ messages over television to warn citizens during Scud attacks.

On 25 February 1991, a Scud missile hit a U.S. Army barracks of the 14th Quartermaster Detachment, out of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, stationed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 soldiers and injuring over 100.[110]

Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia (Battle of Khafji)

Main article: Battle of Khafji

Military operations during Khafji’s liberation

On 29 January, Iraqi forces attacked and occupied the lightly defended Saudi city of Khafji with tanks and infantry. The Battle of Khafji ended two days later when the Iraqis were driven back by the Saudi Arabian National Guard, supported by Qatari forces and U.S. Marines. The allied forces used extensive artillery fire.

Both sides suffered casualties, although Iraqi forces sustained substantially more dead and captured than the allied forces. Eleven Americans were killed in two separate friendly fire incidents, an additional 14 U.S. airmen were killed when their AC-130 gunship was shot down by an Iraqi surface-to-air missile, and two U.S. soldiers were captured during the battle. Saudi and Qatari forces had a total of 18 dead. Iraqi forces in Khafji had 60–300 dead and 400 captured.

The Battle of Khafji was an example of how air power could single-handedly hinder the advance of enemy ground forces. Upon learning of Iraqi troop movements, 140 coalition aircraft were diverted to attack an advancing column consisting of two armored divisions in battalion-sized units. Precision stand-off attacks were conducted during the night and through to the next day. Iraqi vehicle losses included 357 tanks, 147 armored personnel carriers, and 89 mobile artillery pieces. Some crews simply abandoned their vehicles upon realizing that they could be destroyed by guided bombs without warning, stopping the divisions from massing for an organized attack on the town. One Iraqi soldier, who had fought in the Iran-Iraq War, remarked that his brigade “had sustained more punishment from allied airpower in 30 minutes at Khafji than in eight years of fighting against Iran.”[111

Initial moves into Iraq

Iraqi T-62 knocked out by 3rd Armored Division fire

Destroyed LAV-25

The war’s ground phase was officially designated Operation Desert Saber.[112]

The first units to move into Iraq were three patrols of the British Special Air Service‘s B squadron, call signs Bravo One Zero, Bravo Two Zero, and Bravo Three Zero, in late January. These eight-man patrols landed behind Iraqi lines to gather intelligence on the movements of Scud mobile missile launchers, which couldn’t be detected from the air, as they were hidden under bridges and camouflage netting during the day.[113] Other objectives included the destruction of the launchers and their fiber-optic communications arrays that lay in pipelines and relayed coordinates to the TEL operators that were launching attacks against Israel. The operations were designed to prevent any possible Israeli intervention. Due to lack of sufficient ground cover to carry out their assignment, One Zero and Three Zero abandoned their operations, while Two Zero remained, and was later compromised, with only Sergeant Chris Ryan escaping to Syria.

Elements of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Battalion 5th Cavalry of the 1st Cavalry Division of the U.S. Army performed a direct attack into Iraq on 15 February 1991, followed by one in force on 20 February that led directly through 7 Iraqi divisions which were caught off guard.[citation needed] From 15–20 February, the Battle of Wadi Al-Batin took place inside Iraq; this was the first of two attacks by 1 Battalion 5th Cavalry of the 1st Cavalry Division. It was a feint attack, designed to make the Iraqis think that a Coalition invasion would take place from the south. The Iraqis fiercely resisted, and the Americans eventually withdrew as planned back into the Wadi Al-Batin. Three U.S. soldiers were killed and nine wounded as well with only one M2 Bradley IFV turret destroyed, but they had taken 40 prisoners and destroyed five tanks, and successfully deceived the Iraqis. This attack led the way for the XVIII Airborne Corps to sweep around behind the 1st Cav and attack Iraqi forces to the west. On 22 February 1991, Iraq agreed to a Soviet-proposed ceasefire agreement. The agreement called for Iraq to withdraw troops to pre-invasion positions within six weeks following a total cease-fire, and called for monitoring of the cease-fire and withdrawal to be overseen by the UN Security Council.

The Coalition rejected the proposal, but said that retreating Iraqi forces wouldn’t be attacked,[citation needed] and gave twenty-four hours for Iraq to begin withdrawing forces. On 23 February, fighting resulted in the capture of 500 Iraqi soldiers. On 24 February, British and American armored forces crossed the Iraq–Kuwait border and entered Iraq in large numbers, taking hundreds of prisoners. Iraqi resistance was light, and 4 Americans were killed.[114]

Coalition forces enter Iraq

Destroyed Iraqi civilian and military vehicles on the Highway of Death.

Aerial view of destroyed Iraqi T-72 tank, BMP-1 and Type 63 armored personnel carriers and trucks on Highway 8 in March 1991

The oil fires caused were a result of the scorched earth policy of Iraqi military forces retreating from Kuwait

Remains of downed F-16C

Bradley IFV burns after being hit by Iraqi T-72 fire

Shortly afterwards, the U.S. VII Corps, in full strength and spearheaded by the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, launched an armored attack into Iraq early on 24 February, just to the west of Kuwait, taking Iraqi forces by surprise. Simultaneously, the U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps launched a sweeping “left-hook” attack across southern Iraq’s largely undefended desert, led by the U.S. 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized). This movement’s left flank was protected by France’s 6th Light Armoured Division Daguet.

The French force quickly overcame Iraq’s 45th Infantry Division, suffering light casualties and taking a large number of prisoners, and took up blocking positions to prevent an Iraqi counter-attack on the Coalition’s flank. The movement’s right flank was protected by the United Kingdom’s 1st Armoured Division. Once the allies had penetrated deep into Iraqi territory, they turned eastward, launching a flank attack against the elite Republican Guard before it could escape. The Iraqis resisted fiercely from dug-in positions and stationary vehicles, and even mounted armored charges.

Unlike many previous engagements, the destruction of the first Iraqi tanks did not result in a mass surrender. The Iraqis suffered massive losses and lost dozens of tanks and vehicles, while U.S. casualties were comparatively low, with a single Bradley knocked out. Coalition forces pressed another ten kilometers into Iraqi territory, and captured their objective within three hours. They took 500 prisoners and inflicted heavy losses, defeating Iraq’s 26th Infantry Division. A U.S. soldier was killed by an Iraqi land mine, another five by friendly fire, and thirty wounded during the battle. Meanwhile, British forces attacked Iraq’s Medina Division and a major Republican Guard logistics base. In nearly two days of some of the war’s most intense fighting, the British destroyed 40 enemy tanks and captured a division commander.

Meanwhile, U.S. forces attacked the village of Al Busayyah, meeting fierce resistance. They suffered no casualties, but destroyed a considerable amount of military hardware and took prisoners.

On 25 February 1991, Iraqi forces fired a Scud missile at an American barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The missile attack killed 28 U.S. military personnel.[115]

The Coalition’s advance was much swifter than U.S. generals had expected. On 26 February, Iraqi troops began retreating from Kuwait, after they had set its oil fields on fire (737 oil wells were set on fire). A long convoy of retreating Iraqi troops formed along the main Iraq-Kuwait highway. Although they were retreating, this convoy was bombed so extensively by Coalition air forces that it came to be known as the Highway of Death. Hundreds of Iraqi troops were killed. American, British, and French forces continued to pursue retreating Iraqi forces over the border and back into Iraq, eventually moving to within 150 miles (240 km) of Baghdad before withdrawing back to Iraq’s border with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

One hundred hours after the ground campaign started, on 28 February, President Bush declared a ceasefire, and he also declared that Kuwait had been liberated.

The end of active hostilities

Civilians and Coalition military forces wave Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian flags as they celebrate the retreat of Iraqi forces from Kuwait as a result of Operation Desert Storm

Persian Gulf Veterans National Medal of the U.S. military.

In Coalition-occupied Iraqi territory, a peace conference was held where a ceasefire agreement was negotiated and signed by both sides. At the conference, Iraq was approved to fly armed helicopters on their side of the temporary border, ostensibly for government transit due to the damage done to civilian infrastructure. Soon after, these helicopters and much of Iraq’s military were used to fight an uprising in the south. The rebellions were encouraged by an airing of “The Voice of Free Iraq” on 24 February 1991, which was broadcast from a CIA-run radio station out of Saudi Arabia. The Arabic service of the Voice of America supported the uprising by stating that the rebellion was large, and that they soon would be liberated from Saddam.[116]

In the North, Kurdish leaders took American statements that they would support an uprising to heart, and began fighting, hoping to trigger a coup d’état. However, when no U.S. support came, Iraqi generals remained loyal to Saddam and brutally crushed the Kurdish uprising. Millions of Kurds fled across the mountains to Turkey and Kurdish areas of Iran. These events later resulted in no-fly zones being established in northern and southern Iraq. In Kuwait, the Emir was restored, and suspected Iraqi collaborators were repressed. Eventually, over 400,000 people were expelled from the country, including a large number of Palestinians, due to PLO support of Saddam. Yasser Arafat didn’t apologize for his support of Iraq, but after his death, the Fatah under Mahmoud Abbas’ authority formally apologized in 2004.[117]

There was some criticism of the Bush administration, as they chose to allow Saddam to remain in power instead of pushing on to capture Baghdad and overthrowing his government. In their co-written 1998 book, A World Transformed, Bush and Brent Scowcroft argued that such a course would have fractured the alliance, and would have had many unnecessary political and human costs associated with it.

In 1992, the U.S. Defense Secretary during the war, Dick Cheney, made the same point:

I would guess if we had gone in there, we would still have forces in Baghdad today. We’d be running the country. We would not have been able to get everybody out and bring everybody home.And the final point that I think needs to be made is this question of casualties. I don’t think you could have done all of that without significant additional U.S. casualties, and while everybody was tremendously impressed with the low cost of the [1991] conflict, for the 146 Americans who were killed in action and for their families, it wasn’t a cheap war.And the question in my mind is, how many additional American casualties is Saddam [Hussein] worth? And the answer is, not that damned many. So, I think we got it right, both when we decided to expel him from Kuwait, but also when the President made the decision that we’d achieved our objectives and we were not going to go get bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq.[118]— Dick Cheney

Instead of a greater involvement of its own military, the U.S. hoped that Saddam would be overthrown in an internal coup d’état. The CIA used its assets in Iraq to organize a revolt, but the Iraqi government defeated the effort.[citation needed]

Coalition involvement

Coalition troops from Egypt, Syria, Oman, France and Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm.

Coalition members included Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America.[119]

Germany and Japan provided financial assistance and donated military hardware, but didn’t send direct military assistance. This later became known as checkbook diplomacy.

United States of America

The United States of America deployed the largest amount of troops for the war, about 540,000.

United Kingdom

British Army Challenger 1 main battle tank during Operation Desert Storm.

The United Kingdom committed the largest contingent of any European state that participated in the war’s combat operations. Operation Granby was the code name for the operations in the Persian Gulf. British Army regiments (mainly with the 1st Armoured Division), Royal Air Force squadrons and Royal Navy vessels were mobilized in the Persian Gulf. The Royal Air Force, using various aircraft, operated from airbases in Saudi Arabia. Almost 2,500 armored vehicles and 53,462 troops were shipped for action.[citation needed]

Chief Royal Navy vessels deployed to the Persian Gulf included Broadsword-class frigates, and Sheffield-class destroyers, other R.N. and R.F.A. ships were also deployed. The light aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea.

Special operations forces were deployed in the form of several SAS squadrons.

France

French and American soldiers inspecting an Iraqi Type 69 tank destroyed by the French 6th Light Armored Division during Operation Desert Storm.

The second largest European contingent was from France, which committed 18,000 troops.[119] Operating on the left flank of the U.S. XVIII Airborne Corps, the main French Army force was the 6th Light Armoured Division, including troops from the French Foreign Legion. Initially, the French operated independently under national command and control, but coordinated closely with the Americans (via CENTCOM) and Saudis. In January, the Division was placed under the tactical control of the XVIII Airborne Corps. France also deployed several combat aircraft and naval units. The French called their contribution Opération Daguet.

Italy

Italy participated in the military operations in the Persian Gulf by sending a naval task force (consisting of one destroyer, five frigates, one amphibious assault ship and two supply vessels, which have alternated in the area of operations during the conflict), but especially through the use of eight Tornado fighter-bombers (plus 2 reserve), which participated in the bombing of Iraqi military targets, making a total of 226 sorties (589 hours of flight) and releasing a total of 565 MK83 bombs.[citation needed]

Canada

A fighter jet taking off from a runway

Canadian CF-18 Hornets participated in combat during the Gulf War.

Canada was one of the first countries to condemn Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and it quickly agreed to join the U.S.-led coalition. In August 1990, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney committed the Canadian Forces to deploy a Naval Task Group. The destroyers HMCS Terra Nova and HMCS Athabaskan joined the maritime interdiction force supported by the supply ship HMCS Protecteur in Operation Friction. The Canadian Task Group led the Coalition’s maritime logistics forces in the Persian Gulf. A fourth ship, HMCS Huron, arrived in-theater after hostilities had ceased and was the first allied ship to visit Kuwait.

Following the U.N.-authorized use of force against Iraq, the Canadian Forces deployed a CF-18 Hornet and CH-124 Sea King squadron with support personnel, as well as a field hospital to deal with casualties from the ground war. When the air war began, the CF-18s were integrated into the Coalition force and were tasked with providing air cover and attacking ground targets. This was the first time since the Korean War that Canada’s military had participated in offensive combat operations. The only CF-18 Hornet to record an official victory during the conflict was an aircraft involved in the beginning of the Battle of Bubiyan against the Iraqi Navy.[120]

The Canadian Commander in the Middle East was Commodore Kenneth J. Summers.

Australia

HMAS Sydney in the Persian Gulf in 1991.

Australia contributed a Naval Task Group, which formed part of the multi-national fleet in the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, under Operation Damask. In addition, medical teams were deployed aboard a U.S. hospital ship, and a naval clearance diving team took part in de-mining Kuwait’s port facilities following the end of combat operations. While the Australian forces did not see combat, they did play a significant role in enforcing the sanctions put in place against Iraq following Kuwait’s invasion, as well as other small support contributions to Operation Desert Storm. Following the war’s end, Australia deployed a medical unit on Operation Habitat to northern Iraq as part of Operation Provide Comfort.[121]

New Zealand

New Zealand contributions to the campaign included Royal New Zealand Air Force aircraft of two C-130 Hercules and a Boeing 727 from No. 40 Squadron RNZAF, and a Hawker Siddeley Andover from No. 42 Squadron RNZAF. These aircraft flew missions delivering humanitarian aid and supported coalition forces in various locations. The New Zealand Army contributed a small number of specialist personnel such as medics, and provided additional logistics and supplies. Some Royal New Zealand Navy personnel were also deployed as part of the tri-service team.[122]

Argentina

Argentina was the only Latin American country to participate in the 1991 Gulf War sending a destroyer, ARA Almirante Brown (D-10), a corvette, ARA Spiro (P-43) (later replaced by another corvette, ARA Rosales (P-42)), and the supply ship ARA Bahía San Blas (B-4) to participate on the United Nations blockade and sea control effort of the Persian Gulf. The success of Operación Alfil (“English: Operation Bishop”) as it was known, with more than 700 interceptions and 25,000 miles sailed in the theatre of operations helped to overcome the so-called “Malvinas syndrome“. Argentina was later classified as a major non-NATO ally due to its contributions during the war.

Casualties

Sailors from a U.S. Navy honor guard carry Scott Speicher‘s remains

Civilian

Over 1,000 Kuwaiti civilians were killed by Iraqis.[123] More than 600 Kuwaitis went missing during Iraq’s occupation,[124] and approximately 375 remains were found in mass graves in Iraq. The increased importance of air attacks from both Coalition warplanes and cruise missiles led to controversy over the number of civilian deaths caused during Desert Storm’s initial stages. Within Desert Storm’s first 24 hours, more than 1,000 sorties were flown, many against targets in Baghdad. The city was the target of heavy bombing, as it was the seat of power for Saddam and the Iraqi forces’ command and control. This ultimately led to civilian casualties.

In one noted incident, two USAF stealth planes bombed a bunker in Amiriyah, causing the deaths of 408 Iraqi civilians who were in the shelter.[125] Scenes of burned and mutilated bodies were subsequently broadcast, and controversy arose over the bunker’s status, with some stating that it was a civilian shelter, while others contended that it was a center of Iraqi military operations, and that the civilians had been deliberately moved there to act as human shields.

Bush spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said at the time, “We don’t know why civilians were at that location.” According to satellite images and eyewitness accounts both before and after the strike, the facility was clearly marked and monitored by satellite, which would show it being used as a shelter throughout the air strikes; in addition, as noted by Human Rights Watch, the “Pentagon concedes that it knew the Amiriyah facility had been used as a civil-defense shelter during the Iran-Iraq war, but U.S. officials gave no warning that they considered its protected status as a civilian shelter to have ended.” [126]

Saddam’s government gave high civilian casualty figures in order to draw support from Islamic countries. The Iraqi government claimed that 2,300 civilians died during the air campaign.[127] According to the Project on Defense Alternatives study, 3,664 Iraqi civilians were killed in the conflict.[128] An investigation by Beth Osborne Daponte estimated total civilian fatalities at about 3,500 from bombing, and some 100,000 from the war’s other effects.[129][130][131]

Iraqi

The exact number of Iraqi combat casualties is unknown, but is believed to have been heavy. Some estimate that Iraq sustained between 20,000 and 35,000 fatalities.[129] A report commissioned by the U.S. Air Force, estimated 10,000–12,000 Iraqi combat deaths in the air campaign, and as many as 10,000 casualties in the ground war.[132] This analysis is based on Iraqi prisoner of war reports.

According to the Project on Defense Alternatives study, between 20,000 and 26,000 Iraqi military personnel were killed in the conflict while 75,000 others were wounded.[128]

Coalition

Coalition troops killed by country
Country Total Enemy
action
Accident Friendly
fire
Ref
 United States 146 111 35 35 [133]
 Senegal 92 92 [134]
 United Kingdom 47 38 9 [135]
 Saudi Arabia 24 18 6 .[136][137]
 France 9 9 [133]
 United Arab Emirates 6 6 [138]
 Qatar 3 3 [133]
 Syria 2 [139]
 Egypt 11 5 .[137][140]
 Kuwait 1 1 [141]

The DoD reports that U.S. forces suffered 148 battle-related deaths (35 to friendly fire[142]), with one pilot listed as MIA (his remains were found and identified in August 2009). A further 145 Americans died in non-combat accidents.[133] The U.K. suffered 47 deaths (9 to friendly fire, all by U.S. forces), France 2,[133] and the other countries, not including Kuwait, suffered 37 deaths (18 Saudis, 1 Egyptian, 6 UAE, and 3 Qataris).[133] At least 605 Kuwaiti soldiers were still missing 10 years after their capture.[143]

The largest single loss of life among Coalition forces happened on 25 February 1991, when an Iraqi Al Hussein missile hit a U.S. military barrack in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 U.S. Army Reservists from Pennsylvania. In all, 190 Coalition troops were killed by Iraqi fire during the war, 113 of whom were American, out of a total of 358 Coalition deaths. Another 44 soldiers were killed, and 57 wounded, by friendly fire. 145 soldiers died of exploding munitions, or non-combat accidents.[144]

The largest accident among Coalition forces happened on 21 March 1991, when a Royal Saudi Air Force C-130H crashed in heavy smoke on approach to Ras Mishab Airport, Saudi Arabia. 92 Senegalese soldiers and 6 Saudi crew members were killed.[137]

The number of Coalition wounded in combat was 776, including 458 Americans.[145]

190 Coalition troops were killed by Iraqi combatants, the rest of the 379 Coalition deaths being from friendly fire or accidents. This number was much lower than expected. Among the American dead were three female soldiers.

Friendly fire

While the death toll among Coalition forces engaging Iraqi combatants was very low, a substantial number of deaths were caused by accidental attacks from other Allied units. Of the 148 U.S. troops who died in battle, 24% were killed by friendly fire, a total of 35 service personnel.[146] A further 11 died in detonations of coalition munitions. Nine British military personnel were killed in a friendly fire incident when a USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II destroyed a group of two Warrior IFVs.

Controversies

Gulf War Illness

Main article: Gulf War syndrome

Many returning Coalition soldiers reported illnesses following their action in the war, a phenomenon known as Gulf War syndrome or Gulf War illness. Common symptoms that were reported are chronic fatigue, Fibromyalgia, and Gastrointestinal disorder.[147] There has been widespread speculation and disagreement about the causes of the illness and the reported birth defects. Researchers found that infants born to male veterans of the 1991 war had higher rates of two types of heart valve defects. Gulf War veterans’ children born after the war had a certain kidney defect that was not found in Gulf War veterans’ children born before the war. Researchers have said that they did not have enough information to link birth defects with exposure to toxic substances.[148] Some factors considered as possibilities include exposure to depleted uranium, chemical weapons, anthrax vaccines given to deploying soldiers, and/or infectious diseases. Major Michael Donnelly, a USAF officer during the War, helped publicize the syndrome and advocated for veterans’ rights in this regard.

Effects of depleted uranium

Approximate area and major clashes in which DU rounds were used.

Depleted uranium was used in the war in tank kinetic energy penetrators and 20–30 mm cannon ordnance. Significant controversy regarding the long term safety of depleted uranium exists, although detractors claim pyrophoric, genotoxic, and teratogenic heavy metal effects. Many have cited its use during the war as a contributing factor to a number of instances of health issues in the conflict’s veterans and surrounding civilian populations. However, scientific opinion on the risk is mixed.[149][150]

Some say that depleted uranium is not a significant health hazard unless it is taken into the body. External exposure to radiation from depleted uranium is generally not a major concern because the alpha particles emitted by its isotopes travel only a few centimeters in air or can be stopped by a sheet of paper. Also, the uranium-235 that remains in depleted uranium emits only a small amount of low-energy gamma radiation. However, if allowed to enter the body, depleted uranium, like natural uranium, has the potential for both chemical and radiological toxicity with the two important target organs being the kidneys and the lungs[151]

Highway of Death

Main article: Highway of Death

On the night of 26–27 February 1991, some Iraqi forces began leaving Kuwait on the main highway north of Al Jahra in a column of some 1,400 vehicles. A patrolling E-8 Joint STARS aircraft observed the retreating forces and relayed the information to the DDM-8 air operations center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.[152] These vehicles and the retreating soldiers were subsequently attacked, resulting in a 60 km stretch of highway strewn with debris—the Highway of Death.

Chuck Horner, Commander of U.S. and allied air operations has written:

[By February 26], the Iraqis totally lost heart and started to evacuate occupied Kuwait, but airpower halted the caravan of Iraqi Army and plunderers fleeing toward Basra. This event was later called by the media “The Highway of Death.” There were certainly a lot of dead vehicles, but not so many dead Iraqis. They’d already learned to scamper off into the desert when our aircraft started to attack. Nevertheless, some people back home wrongly chose to believe we were cruelly and unusually punishing our already whipped foes.

[…]
By February 27, talk had turned toward terminating the hostilities. Kuwait was free. We were not interested in governing Iraq. So the question became “How do we stop the killing.”[153]

Bulldozer assault

An armored bulldozer similar to the ones used in the attack.

Another incident during the war highlighted the question of large-scale Iraqi combat deaths. This was the “bulldozer assault”, wherein two brigades from the U.S. 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) were faced with a large and complex trench network, as part of the heavily fortified “Saddam Hussein Line”. After some deliberation, they opted to use anti-mine plows mounted on tanks and combat earthmovers to simply plow over and bury alive the defending Iraqi soldiers. Not a single American was killed during the attack. Reporters were banned from witnessing the attack, near the neutral zone that touches the border between Saudi Arabia and Iraq.[154] Every American in the assault was inside an armored vehicle.[154] One newspaper story reported that U.S. commanders estimated thousands of Iraqi soldiers surrendered, escaping live burial during the two-day assault 24–26 February 1991. Patrick Day Sloyan of Newsday reported, “Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Vulcan armored carriers straddled the trench lines and fired into the Iraqi soldiers as the tanks covered them with mounds of sand. ‘I came through right after the lead company,’ [Col. Anthony] Moreno said. ‘What you saw was a bunch of buried trenches with peoples’ arms and things sticking out of them… ‘”[155] However, after the war, the Iraqi government said that only 44 bodies were found.[156] In his book The Wars Against Saddam, John Simpson alleges that U.S. forces attempted to cover up the incident.[157] After the incident, the commander of the 1st Brigade said: “I know burying people like that sounds pretty nasty, but it would be even nastier if we had to put our troops in the trenches and clean them out with bayonets.”[155] Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney did not mention the First Division’s tactics in an interim report to Congress on Operation Desert Storm.[154] In the report, Cheney acknowledged that 457 enemy soldiers were buried during the ground war.[154]

Palestinian exodus from Kuwait

A Palestinian exodus from Kuwait took place during and after the Gulf War. During the Gulf War, more than 200,000 Palestinians voluntarily fled Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait due to harassment and intimidation by Iraqi security forces,[158] in addition to getting fired from work by Iraqi authority figures in Kuwait.[158] After the Gulf War, the Kuwaiti authorities forcibly pressured nearly 200,000 Palestinians to leave Kuwait in 1991.[158] Kuwait’s policy, which led to this exodus, was a response to alignment of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the PLO with Saddam Hussein, who had earlier invaded Kuwait.

The Palestinians who fled Kuwait were Jordanian citizens.[159] In 2013, there were 280,000 Jordanian citizens of Palestinian origin in Kuwait.[160] In 2012, 80,000 Palestinians (without Jordanian citizenship) lived in Kuwait.[161]

Saudi Arabia expelled Yemeni workers after Yemen supported Saddam during the Gulf War.[162]

Coalition bombing of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure

In the 23 June 1991 edition of The Washington Post, reporter Bart Gellman wrote: “Many of the targets were chosen only secondarily to contribute to the military defeat of [Iraq] … Military planners hoped the bombing would amplify the economic and psychological impact of international sanctions on Iraqi society … They deliberately did great harm to Iraq’s ability to support itself as an industrial society …”[163] In the Jan/Feb 1995 edition of Foreign Affairs, French diplomat Eric Rouleau wrote: “[T]he Iraqi people, who were not consulted about the invasion, have paid the price for their government’s madness … Iraqis understood the legitimacy of a military action to drive their army from Kuwait, but they have had difficulty comprehending the Allied rationale for using air power to systematically destroy or cripple Iraqi infrastructure and industry: electric power stations (92 percent of installed capacity destroyed), refineries (80 percent of production capacity), petrochemical complexes, telecommunications centers (including 135 telephone networks), bridges (more than 100), roads, highways, railroads, hundreds of locomotives and boxcars full of goods, radio and television broadcasting stations, cement plants, and factories producing aluminum, textiles, electric cables, and medical supplies.”[164] However, the U.N. subsequently spent billions rebuilding hospitals, schools, and water purification facilities throughout the country.[165]

Abuse of Coalition POWs

During the conflict, Coalition aircrews shot down over Iraq were displayed as prisoners of war on TV, most with visible signs of abuse. Among several testimonies to poor treatment,[166] Air Force Captain Richard Storr was allegedly tortured by Iraqis during the war. Iraqi secret police broke his nose, dislocated his shoulder and punctured his eardrum.[167] Royal Air Force Tornado crewmembers John Nichol and John Peters have both alleged that they were tortured during this time.[168][169] Nichol and Peters were forced to make statements against the war in front of television cameras. Members of British Special Air Service Bravo Two Zero were captured while providing information about an Iraqi supply line of Scud missiles to Coalition forces. Only one, Chris Ryan, evaded capture while the group’s other surviving members were violently tortured.[170] Flight surgeon (later General) Rhonda Cornum was raped by one of her captors[171] after the Black Hawk she was riding in was shot down while searching for a downed F-16 pilot.

Operation Southern Watch

Since the war, the U.S. has had a continued presence of 5,000 troops stationed in Saudi Arabia – a figure that rose to 10,000 during the 2003 conflict in Iraq.[172] Operation Southern Watch enforced the no-fly zones over southern Iraq set up after 1991; oil exports through the Persian Gulf’s shipping lanes were protected by the Bahrain-based U.S. Fifth Fleet.

Since Saudi Arabia houses Mecca and Medina, Islam’s holiest sites, many Muslims were upset at the permanent military presence. The continued presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia after the war was one of the stated motivations behind the 11 September terrorist attacks,[172] the Khobar Towers bombing, and the date chosen for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings (7 August), which was eight years to the day that U.S. troops were sent to Saudi Arabia.[173] Osama bin Laden interpreted the Islamic prophet Muhammad as banning the “permanent presence of infidels in Arabia”.[174] In 1996, bin Laden issued a fatwa, calling for U.S. troops to leave Saudi Arabia. In a December 1999 interview with Rahimullah Yusufzai, bin Laden said he felt that Americans were “too near to Mecca” and considered this a provocation to the entire Islamic world.[175]

Sanctions

On 6 August 1990, after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 661 which imposed economic sanctions on Iraq, providing for a full trade embargo, excluding medical supplies, food and other items of humanitarian necessity, these to be determined by the Council’s sanctions committee. From 1991 until 2003, the effects of government policy and sanctions regime led to hyperinflation, widespread poverty and malnutrition.

During the late 1990s, the U.N. considered relaxing the sanctions imposed because of the hardships suffered by ordinary Iraqis. Studies dispute the number of people who died in south and central Iraq during the years of the sanctions.[176][177][178]

Draining of the Qurna Marshes

The draining of the Qurna Marshes (or Mesopotamian Marshes) was an irrigation project in Iraq during and immediately after the war, to drain a large area of marshes in the Tigris–Euphrates river system. Formerly covering an area of around 3,000 square kilometers, the large complex of wetlands were almost completely emptied of water, and the local Shi’ite population relocated, following the war and 1991 uprisings. By 2000, United Nations Environment Programme estimated that 90% of the marshlands had disappeared, causing desertification of over 7,500 square miles (19,000 km2).[citation needed]

The draining of the Qurna Marshes occurred in Iraq and to a smaller degree in Iran between the 1950s and 1990s to clear large areas of the marshes in the Tigris-Euphrates river system. Formerly covering an area of around 20,000 km2 (7,700 sq mi), the large complex of wetlands was 90% drained prior to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. The marshes are typically divided into three main sub-marshes, the Hawizeh, Central, and Hammar Marshes and all three were drained at different times for different reasons. Initial draining of the Central Marshes was intended to reclaim land for agriculture but later all three marshes would become a tool of war and revenge.[179]

Many international organizations such as the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the Wetlands International, and Middle East Watch have described the project as a political attempt to force the Marsh Arabs out of the area through water diversion tactics.[179]

Oil spill

Main article: Gulf War oil spill

On 23 January, Iraq dumped 400 million US gallons (1,500,000 m3) of crude oil into the Persian Gulf, causing the largest offshore oil spill in history at that time.[180] It was reported as a deliberate natural resources attack to keep U.S. Marines from coming ashore (Missouri and Wisconsin had shelled Failaka Island during the war to reinforce the idea that there would be an amphibious assault attempt).[181] About 30–40% of this came from allied raids on Iraqi coastal targets.[182]

Kuwaiti oil fires

Main article: Kuwaiti oil fires

Oil well fires rage outside Kuwait City in 1991

The Kuwaiti oil fires were caused by the Iraqi military setting fire to 700 oil wells as part of a scorched earth policy while retreating from Kuwait in 1991 after conquering the country but being driven out by Coalition forces. The fires started in January and February 1991 and the last one was extinguished by November 1991.[183]

The resulting fires burned out of control because of the dangers of sending in firefighting crews. Land mines had been placed in areas around the oil wells, and a military cleaning of the areas was necessary before the fires could be put out. Somewhere around 6 million barrels (950,000 m3) of oil were lost each day. Eventually, privately contracted crews extinguished the fires, at a total cost of US$1.5 billion to Kuwait.[184] By that time, however, the fires had burned for approximately ten months, causing widespread pollution.[185]

Cost

The cost of the war to the United States was calculated by the U.S. Congress to be $61.1 billion.[186] About $52 billion of that amount was paid by other countries: $36 billion by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states of the Persian Gulf; $16 billion by Germany and Japan (which sent no combat forces due to their constitutions). About 25% of Saudi Arabia’s contribution was paid in the form of in-kind services to the troops, such as food and transportation.[186] U.S. troops represented about 74% of the combined force, and the global cost was therefore higher.

Effect on developing countries

Apart from the impact on Arab States of the Persian Gulf, the resulting economic disruptions after the crisis affected many states. The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) undertook a study in 1991 to assess the effects on developing states and the international community’s response. A briefing paper finalized on the day that the conflict ended draws on their findings which had two main conclusions: Many developing states were severely affected and while there has been a considerable response to the crisis, the distribution of assistance was highly selective.[187]

The ODI factored in elements of “cost” which included oil imports, remittance flows, re-settlement costs, loss of export earnings and tourism. For Egypt, the cost totaled $1 billion, 3% of GDP. Yemen had a cost of $830 million, 10% of GDP, while it cost Jordan $1.8 billion, 32% of GDP.

International response to the crisis on developing states came with the channeling of aid through The Gulf Crisis Financial Co-ordination Group. They were 24 states, comprising most of the OECD countries plus some Gulf states: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait. The members of this group agreed to disperse $14 billion in development assistance.

The World Bank responded by speeding up the disbursement of existing project and adjustment loans. The International Monetary Fund adopted two lending facilities – the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) and the Compensatory & Contingency Financing Facility (CCFF). The European Community offered $2 billion[clarification needed] in assistance.[187]

Technology

The USS Missouri launches a Tomahawk missile. The Gulf War was the last conflict in which battleships were deployed in a combat role (as of 2014)

Precision-guided munitions, such as the U.S. Air Force’s AGM-130 guided missile, were heralded as key in allowing military strikes to be made with a minimum of civilian casualties compared to previous wars, although they were not used as often as more traditional, less accurate bombs. Specific buildings in downtown Baghdad could be bombed while journalists in their hotels watched cruise missiles fly by.

Precision-guided munitions amounted to approximately 7.4% of all bombs dropped by the Coalition. Other bombs included cluster bombs, which disperse numerous submunitions,[193] and daisy cutters, 15,000-pound bombs which can disintegrate everything within hundreds of yards.

Global Positioning System units were relatively new at the time and were important in enabling Coalition units to easily navigate across the desert. Since military GPS receivers were not available for most troops, many used commercially available units. To permit these to be used to best effect, the “selective availability” feature of the GPS system was turned off for the duration of Desert Storm, allowing these commercial receivers to provide the same precision as the military equipment.[194]

Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and satellite communication systems were also important. Two examples of this are the U.S. Navy’s Grumman E-2 Hawkeye and the U.S. Air Force’s Boeing E-3 Sentry. Both were used in command and control area of operations. These systems provided essential communications links between air, ground, and naval forces. It is one of several reasons why Coalition forces dominated the air war.

American-made color photocopiers were used to produce some of Iraq’s battle plans. Some of the copiers contained concealed high-tech transmitters that revealed their positions to American electronic warfare aircraft, leading to more precise bombings.[195]

Scud and Patriot missiles

Military personnel examine the remains of a Scud

The role of Iraq’s Scud missiles featured prominently in the war. Scud is a tactical ballistic missile that the Soviet Union developed and deployed among the forward deployed Red Army divisions in East Germany. The role of the Scuds which were armed with nuclear and chemical warheads was to destroy command, control, and communication facilities and delay full mobilization of Western German and Allied Forces in Germany. It could also be used to directly target ground forces.

Scud missiles utilize inertial guidance which operates for the duration that the engines operate. Iraq used Scud missiles, launching them into both Saudi Arabia and Israel. Some missiles caused extensive casualties, while others caused little damage. Concerns were raised of possible chemical or biological warheads on these rockets, but if they existed, they were not used.

The U.S. Patriot missile was used in combat for the first time. The U.S. military claimed a high effectiveness against Scuds at the time, but later analysis gives figures as low as nine percent, with forty-five percent of the 158 Patriot launches being against debris or false targets.[196] The Dutch Ministry of Defense, which also sent Patriot missiles to protect civilians in Israel and Turkey, later disputed the higher claim.[106] Further, there is at least one incident of a software error causing a Patriot missile’s failure to engage an incoming Scud, resulting in deaths.[197] Both the U.S. Army and the missile manufacturers maintained the Patriot delivered a “miracle performance” in the Gulf War.[196]


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The Murder of Two Off Duty British Army Corporals and the events leading up to it

  Operation Flavius

The execution  of three members of the IRA in Gibraltar set in motion the chain of events that would lead to the killings of David Howes and David Howes

Operation Flavius (also referred to as the “Gibraltar killings“) was a controversial military operation in which three members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) were shot dead by the British Special Air Service (SAS) in Gibraltar on 6 March 1988.

The three—Seán Savage, Daniel McCann, and Mairéad Farrell—were believed to be mounting a bombing attack on British military personnel in Gibraltar. SAS soldiers challenged them in the forecourt of a petrol station, then opened fire, killing them.

All three were found to be unarmed, and no bomb was discovered in Savage’s car, leading to accusations that the British government had conspired to murder them. An inquest in Gibraltar ruled that the SAS had acted lawfully, while the European Court of Human Rights held that, although there had been no conspiracy, the planning and control of the operation was so flawed as to make the use of lethal force almost inevitable.

The deaths were the first in a chain of violent events in a fourteen-day period; they were followed by the Milltown Cemetery attack and the corporals killings in Belfast.

Disclaimer 

The views and opinions expressed in these documentary are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.


Michael Stone

The Milltown Attack

The Milltown Cemetery attack (also known as the Milltown Cemetery killings or Milltown Massacretook place on 16 March 1988 in Belfast‘s Milltown Cemetery. During the funeral of three Provisional IRA volunteers killed in Gibraltar, an Ulster Defence Association (UDA) volunteer, Michael Stone, attacked the mourners with hand grenades and pistols.

As Stone ran towards the nearby motorway, a large crowd began chasing him and he continued shooting and throwing grenades. Some of them caught him and began beating him, but he was rescued by the police and arrested. Three people had been killed and more than 60 wounded. The “unprecedented, one-man attack”  was filmed by television news crews and caused shock around the world.

Three days later, at the funeral of one of Stone’s victims, two non-uniformed British soldiers drove into the funeral procession. Bystanders, who reportedly thought it was a replay of an attack like that carried out by Stone, dragged the soldiers from their car; the two corporals were later shot dead by the IRA.

Corporals Wood and Howes killed by IRA 1988

British Army corporals David Howes and Derek Wood  were killed by the Provisional IRA on 19 March 1988 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in an event which became knowns as the corporals killings. The plain-clothes soldiers were killed after driving a car into the funeral procession of an IRA member.

See The Corporal Killings

see Operation Flavious

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British SAS Special Forces (Full Documentary)

British SAS Special Forces

File:S.A.S emblem.svg

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World’s Most Dangerous | SAS Special Forces – New Documentary(2015)

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The Special Air Service (SAS) is a unit of the British Army founded in 1941 as a regiment, and later reconstituted as a corps in 1950.[5] This special forces unit undertakes a number of roles including covert reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, direct action, and human intelligence gathering.[8][10]

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Royal British Special Forces – British SAS Documentary – HD Documentary

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The corps presently comprises 22 Special Air Service Regiment, the regular component, under the operational command of United Kingdom Special Forces, and 21 (Artists) Special Air Service Regiment and 23 Special Air Service Regiment, which are reserve units under the operational command of 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade.[11]

The Special Air Service traces its origins to 1941 and the Second World War, and was reformed as part of the Territorial Army in 1947, named the 21st Special Air Service Regiment (Artists Rifles). 22 Special Air Service Regiment, part of the regular army, later gained fame and recognition worldwide after successfully assaulting the Iranian Embassy in London and rescuing hostages during the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege, lifting the regiment from obscurity outside the military

The Special Air Service (SAS) is a unit of the British Army founded in 1941 as a regiment, and later reconstituted as a corps in 1950.[5] This special forces unit undertakes a number of roles including covert reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, direct action, and human intelligence gathering.[8][10]

The corps presently comprises 22 Special Air Service Regiment, the regular component, under the operational command of United Kingdom Special Forces, and 21 (Artists) Special Air Service Regiment and 23 Special Air Service Regiment, which are reserve units under the operational command of 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade.[11]

The Special Air Service traces its origins to 1941 and the Second World War, and was reformed as part of the Territorial Army in 1947, named the 21st Special Air Service Regiment (Artists Rifles). 22 Special Air Service Regiment, part of the regular army, later gained fame and recognition worldwide after successfully assaulting the Iranian Embassy in London and rescuing hostages during the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege, lifting the regiment from obscurity outside the military

The Special Air Service (SAS) is a unit of the British Army founded in 1941 as a regiment, and later reconstituted as a corps in 1950.[5] This special forces unit undertakes a number of roles including covert reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, direct action, and human intelligence gathering.[8][10]

The corps presently comprises 22 Special Air Service Regiment, the regular component, under the operational command of United Kingdom Special Forces, and 21 (Artists) Special Air Service Regiment and 23 Special Air Service Regiment, which are reserve units under the operational command of 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade.[11]

The Special Air Service traces its origins to 1941 and the Second World War, and was reformed as part of the Territorial Army in 1947, named the 21st Special Air Service Regiment (Artists Rifles). 22 Special Air Service Regiment, part of the regular army, later gained fame and recognition worldwide after successfully assaulting the Iranian Embassy in London and rescuing hostages during the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege, lifting the regiment from obscurity outside the military

History

The Special Air Service was a unit of the British Army during the Second World War, formed in July 1941 by David Stirling and originally called “L” Detachment, Special Air Service Brigade—the “L” designation and Air Service name being a tie-in to a British disinformation campaign, trying to deceive the Axis into thinking there was a paratrooper regiment with numerous units operating in the area (the real SAS would ‘prove’ to the Axis that the fake one existed).[1][13] It was conceived as a commando force to operate behind enemy lines in the North African Campaign[14] and initially consisted of five officers and 60 other ranks.[15] Its first mission, in November 1941, was a parachute drop in support of the Operation Crusader offensive.[13] Due to German resistance and adverse weather conditions, the mission was a disaster: 22 men, a third of the unit, were killed or captured.[16] Its second mission was a success: transported by the Long Range Desert Group, it attacked three airfields in Libya, destroying 60 aircraft without loss.[16] In September 1942 it was renamed 1st SAS, consisting at that time of four British squadrons, one Free French, one Greek, and the Folboat Section.[17]

In January 1943, Stirling was captured in Tunisia and Paddy Mayne replaced him as commander.[18] In April 1943, the 1st SAS was reorganised into the Special Raiding Squadron under Mayne’s command and the Special Boat Squadron was placed under the command of George Jellicoe.[19] The Special Raiding Squadron fought in Sicily and Italy along with the 2nd SAS, which had been formed in North Africa in 1943 in part by the renaming of the Small Scale Raiding Force.[20][21] The Special Boat Squadron fought in the Aegean Islands and Dodecanese until the end of the war.[22] In 1944 the SAS Brigade was formed from the British 1st and 2nd SAS, the French 3rd and 4th SAS and the Belgian 5th SAS.[23] It was tasked with parachute operations behind the German lines in France[2] and carried out operations supporting the Allied advance through Belgium, the Netherlands (Operation Pegasus), and eventually into Germany (Operation Archway).[23][24] As a result of Hitler’s issuing of the Commando Order 18 October 1942, the members of the unit faced the additional danger that they would be summarily executed if ever captured by the Germans. In July 1944, following Operation Bulbasket, 34 captured SAS commandos were summarily executed by the Germans. In October 1944, in the aftermath of Operation Loyton 31 captured SAS commandos were summarily executed by the Germans.[25]

Post war

At the end of the war the British Government saw no further need for the force and disbanded it on 8 October 1945.[2] The following year it was decided there was a need for a long-term deep-penetration commando unit, and a new SAS regiment was to be raised as part of the Territorial Army.[26] Ultimately, the Artists Rifles, raised in 1860 and headquartered at Dukes Road, Euston, took on the SAS mantle as 21st SAS Regiment (V) on 1 January 1947.[3][26]

man in British Army uniform, carrying a parachute helmet and wearing a beret, other men can just be seen in the dark background

21 SAS soldier after a night parachute drop exercise in Denmark, 1955

In 1950, a 21 SAS squadron was raised to fight in the Korean War. After three months of training in England, it was informed that the squadron would no longer be required in Korea and so it instead volunteered to fight in the Malayan Emergency.[27] Upon arrival in Malaya, it came under the command of Mike Calvert who was forming a new unit called the Malayan Scouts (SAS).[27] Calvert had already formed one squadron from 100 volunteers in the Far East, which became A Squadron—the 21 SAS squadron then became B Squadron; and after a recruitment visit to Rhodesia by Calvert, C Squadron was formed from 1,000 Rhodesian volunteers.[28] The Rhodesians returned home after three years service and were replaced by a New Zealand squadron.[29] By this time, the need for a regular army SAS regiment had been recognised; 22 SAS Regiment was formally added to the army list in 1952 and has been based at Hereford since 1960.[8] In 1959 the third regiment, 23 SAS Regiment, was formed by renaming the Reserve Reconnaissance Unit, which had succeeded MI9 and whose members were experts in escape and evasion.[30]

22 SAS Regiment

Since serving in Malaya, men from the regular army 22 SAS Regiment have taken part in covert reconnaissance and surveillance by patrols and some larger scale raiding missions in Borneo.[31] An operation against communist guerillas included the Battle of Mirbat in the Oman.[32] They have also taken part in operations in the Aden Emergency,[33] Northern Ireland,[34] and Gambia.[31] Their Special projects team assisted the West German counter-terrorism group GSG 9 at Mogadishu.[31] The SAS counter terrorist wing famously took part in a hostage rescue operation during the Iranian Embassy Siege in London.[35] During the Falklands War B squadron were prepared for Operation Mikado before it was subsequently cancelled whilst D and G squadrons were deployed and participated in the raid on Pebble Island.[36] Operation Flavius was a controversial operation in Gibraltar against the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA).[31] 22 SAS also directed NATO aircraft onto Serb positions and hunted war criminals in Bosnia.[37][38] They were also involved in the Kosovo War helping KLA guerillas behind Serbian lines. According to Albanian sources one SAS sergeant was killed by Serbian special forces.[39]

The Gulf War, in which A, B and D squadrons deployed, was the largest SAS mobilisation since the Second World War, also notable for the failure of the Bravo Two Zero mission.[40] In Sierra Leone it took part in Operation Barras, a hostage rescue operation, to extract members of the Royal Irish Regiment.[31] In the Iraq War, it formed part of Task Force Black and Task Force Knight, with A Squadron 22 SAS being singled out for exceptional service by General Stanley McChrystal, the American commander of NATO forces: during a six-month tour it carried out 175 combat missions.[41] In 2006, members of the SAS were involved in the operation to free peace activists Norman Kember, James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden. The three men had been held hostage in Iraq for 118 days during the Christian Peacemaker hostage crisis.[42] Operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan[43] involved soldiers from 21 and 23 SAS Regiments.[4]

Various British newspapers have speculated on the SAS involvement in Operation Ellamy and the 2011 Libyan civil war, the Daily Telegraph reports that “defence sources have confirmed that the SAS has been in Libya for several weeks, and played a key role in coordinating the fall of Tripoli.”[44] While The Guardian reports “They have been acting as forward air controllers – directing pilots to targets – and communicating with NATO operational commanders. They have also been advising rebels on tactics.”[45]

A significant force of the Special Air Service was deployed to Northern Iraq in late August 2014, and according to former MI6 chief Richard Barrett will be sent to Syria, tasked with trying to track down the Islamic State terrorist group that the press labeled the Beatles using a range of high-tech equipment and with potentially freeing their hostages.[46][47][48][49] In October 2014, the SAS began executing raids against ISIS supply lines in western Iraq, using helicopters to drop light vehicles manned by sniper squads. It has been claimed that the SAS have killed up to eight ISIS fighters per day since the raids began.[50]

In recent years SAS officers have risen to the highest ranks in the British Army. General Peter de la Billière was the Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in the 1990 Gulf War.[51] General Michael Rose became commander of the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia in 1994.[52] In 1997 General Charles Guthrie became Chief of the Defence Staff the head of the British Armed Forces.[53] Lieutenant-General Cedric Delves was appointed Commander of the Field Army and Deputy Commander in Chief NATO Regional Headquarters Allied Forces North in 2002–2003.[54]

Influence on other special forces

Following the post-war reconstitution of the Special Air Service, other countries in the Commonwealth recognised their need for similar units. The Canadian Special Air Service Company was formed in 1947, being disbanded in 1949.[55][56] The New Zealand Special Air Service squadron was formed in 1954 to serve with the British SAS in Malaya.[29] Australia formed the 1st SAS Company in July 1957, which became a full regiment of the Australian Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) in August 1964.[57] On its return from Malaya, the C (Rhodesian) Squadron formed the basis for creation of the Rhodesian Special Air Service in 1961.[30] It retained the name “C Squadron (Rhodesian) Special Air Service” within the Rhodesian Security Forces until 1978, when it became 1 (Rhodesian) Special Air Service Regiment.[58]

Non-Commonwealth countries have also formed units based on the SAS. The Belgian Army’s Special Forces Group, which wears the same capbadge as the British SAS, traces its ancestry partly from the 5th Special Air Service of the Second World War.[59][60][61][62][63][64][65] The French 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment (1er RPIMa) can trace its origins to the Second World War 3rd and 4th SAS, adopting its “who dares wins” motto.[66] The American unit, Delta Force, was formed by Colonel Charles Alvin Beckwith, who served with 22 SAS as an exchange officer, and recognised the need for a similar type of unit in the United States Army.[67] The Israeli Sayeret Matkal has also been modelled after the SAS, sharing its motto. Ireland‘s Army Ranger Wing (ARW) has also modelled its training on that of the SAS, as well as Delta Force (who in turn have been influenced by the SAS). The Irish ARW train with the SAS.[68] The Philippine National Police‘s Special Action Force, heavily engaged in counter-insurgency in the Mindinao region, was formed along the lines of the SAS.[69]

 

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British SAS Special Forces. Its about time the Terrorists were Terrorised.

 Send in the SAS See how brave they are faced with real Warriors

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British Forces In Firefight with Taliban ( Afghanistan )

The footage follows a squad of British soldiers on foot patrol through irrigated farmland who quickly, soon after leaving their combat outpost, run into a firefight with
Taliban insurgents

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UK vs ISIS: Elite SAS soldiers deployed on secret sniper missions to kill Islamic State militants

Squads of elite British Special Air Service soldiers have been deployed on secret missions to kill Islamic State militants, eliminating up to eight jihadists a day, according to a report in the Mail on Sunday.

Such attacks, which are often launched at night, may reflect a heightened effort from the United Kingdom to fight the Islamic State, as the SAS had previously said it was only engaged in non-combat missions in the area.

Before a mission begins, drones are sent to collect footage of potential target sites, while intelligence officials tap the phones of Islamic State leaders to gather more information.

SAS soldiers are carried to the drop site in Chinook helicopters. Since the helicopter’s engines are loud, the drop site can be as far as 80 kilometres from the target. The troops then prepare their heavy machine guns and sniper rifles before heading to the target site on quad bikes.

Their guerilla-style attacks take enemies by surprise and make it difficult for them to mount a defense. “Our tactics are putting the fear of God into IS as they don’t know where we’re going to strike next and there’s frankly nothing they can do to stop us,” an unnamed SAS source told the Mail on Sunday.

The United States and the United Kingdom will be coordinating an offensive by 20,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops in spring.

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Operation Flavius – SAS execute three IRA Terrorists in Gibraltar

 Operation Flavius

Operation Flavius (also referred to as the “Gibraltar killings“) was a controversial military operation in which three members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) were shot dead by the British Special Air Service (SAS) in Gibraltar on 6 March 1988. The three—Seán Savage, Daniel McCann, and Mairéad Farrell—were believed to be mounting a bombing attack on British military personnel in Gibraltar. SAS soldiers challenged them in the forecourt of a petrol station, then opened fire, killing them.

All three were found to be unarmed, and no bomb was discovered in Savage’s car, leading to accusations that the British government had conspired to murder them. An inquest in Gibraltar ruled that the SAS had acted lawfully, while the European Court of Human Rights held that, although there had been no conspiracy, the planning and control of the operation was so flawed as to make the use of lethal force almost inevitable. The deaths were the first in a chain of violent events in a fourteen-day period; they were followed by the Milltown Cemetery attack and the corporals killings in Belfast.

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From late 1987, the British authorities were aware that the IRA was planning to detonate a bomb at the changing of the guard ceremony outside the governor’s residence in the British Dependent Territory of Gibraltar. When Savage, McCann and Farrell—known IRA members—travelled to Spain in preparation for the attack, they were tracked at the request of the British government. On the day of the shootings, Savage was seen parking a white Renault in the car park used as the assembly area for the parade; McCann and Farrell were seen crossing the border shortly afterwards.

After a military bomb-disposal officer reported that Savage’s car should be treated as a suspected bomb, the police handed over control of the operation to the SAS. As soldiers were moving into position to intercept the trio, Savage split from McCann and Farrell and began running south. Two soldiers pursued Savage while two approached McCann and Farrell; as they did so, the pair were said to make threatening movements, as a result of which the soldiers opened fire, shooting them multiple times.

As soldiers caught up with Savage, he was alleged to have turned around to face them while reaching into his jacket; he was also shot multiple times. All three were subsequently found to be unarmed, and Savage’s car was found to contain no explosives; enquiries resulting from keys found on Farrell led authorities to a second car, containing a large quantity of explosives, in a car park in Spain. Almost two months after the shootings, the documentary Death on the Rock was broadcast on British television. Using reconstructions and eyewitness accounts, it presented the possibility that the three IRA members had been unlawfully killed. The documentary proved extremely controversial; several British newspapers described it as “trial by television”.

The inquest into the deaths began in September 1988. It heard from British and Gibraltar authorities that the IRA team had been tracked to Málaga Airport, where they were lost by the Spanish police, and that the three did not re-emerge until Savage was sighted parking his car in Gibraltar. The soldiers each testified that they had opened fire in the belief that the suspected bombers were reaching for weapons or a remote detonator. Among the civilians who gave evidence were the eyewitnesses discovered by “Death on the Rock”, who gave accounts of seeing the three shot without warning, with their hands up, or while they were on the ground.

Kenneth Asquez, who told the documentary that he had seen a soldier fire at Savage repeatedly while the latter was on the ground, retracted his statement at the inquest, claiming that he had been pressured into giving it. On 30 September, the inquest jury returned a verdict of “lawful killing“.

Dissatisfied, the families took the case to the European Court of Human Rights. Delivering its judgement in 1995, the court found that the operation had been in violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights as the authorities’ failure to arrest the suspects at the border, combined with the information given to the soldiers, rendered the use of lethal force almost inevitable. The decision is cited as a landmark case in the use of force by the state.

The Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), now inactive, is a paramilitary organisation which aimed to establish a united Ireland and end the British administration of Northern Ireland through the use of force. The organisation was the result of a 1969 split within the previous Irish Republican Army, also known as “the IRA”[(the other resulting group, known as the Official IRA, ceased military activity during the 1970s). During its campaign, the IRA killed members of the armed forces, police, judiciary and prison service, including off-duty and retired members, and bombed businesses and military targets in both Northern Ireland and England, with the aim of making Northern Ireland ungovernable.

Daniel McCann, Seán Savage, and Mairéad Farrell were, according to journalist Brendan O’Brien, “three of the IRA’s most senior activists”. Savage was an explosives expert and McCann was “a high-ranking intelligence operative”; both McCann and Farrell had previously served prison sentences for offences relating to explosives.

Background

The Special Air Service (formally 22 Special Air Service Regiment, or 22 SAS) is a regiment of the British Army and part of the United Kingdom’s special forces. The SAS was sporadically assigned to operations in Northern Ireland in the early stages of the British Army’s deployment in the province, during which they were confined to South Armagh. The first large-scale deployment of SAS soldiers in the Troubles was in 1976, when the regiment’s D Squadron was committed.The SAS soon began to specialise in covert, intelligence-based operations against the IRA, using more aggressive tactics than regular army and police units operating in Northern Ireland.

Build-up

Area in front of The Convent where the changing of the guard ceremony takes place

From late 1987, the British authorities were aware that the IRA was planning an attack in Gibraltar and launched Operation Flavius.

The intelligence appeared to be confirmed in November 1987, when several known IRA members were detected travelling from Belfast to Spain under false identities. MI5—the British Security Service—and the Spanish authorities became aware that an IRA active service unit was operating from the Costa del Sol and the members of the unit were placed under surveillance.

After a known IRA member was sighted at the changing of the guard ceremony at “the Convent” (the governor’s residence) in Gibraltar, the British and Gibraltarian authorities began to suspect that the IRA was planning to attack the British soldiers with a car bomb as they assembled for the ceremony in a nearby car park. In an attempt to confirm the IRA’s intended target, the government of Gibraltar suspended the ceremony in December 1987, citing a need to repaint the guardhouse.

They believed their suspicions were confirmed when the IRA member re-appeared at the ceremony when it resumed in February 1988, and the Gibraltar authorities requested special assistance from the British government.

In the weeks after the resumption of the changing of the guard ceremony, the three IRA members who were to carry out the attack—Seán Savage, Daniel McCann, and Mairéad Farrell—travelled to Malaga (90 miles [140 kilometres] along the coast from Gibraltar), where they each rented a car.Their activities were monitored and by early March, the British authorities were convinced that an IRA attack was imminent; a special projects team from the SAS was despatched to the territory, apparently with the personal approval of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.Before the operation, the SAS practised arrest techniques, while the Gibraltar authorities searched for a suitable place to hold the would-be bombers after their arrest.

The plan was that the SAS would assist the Gibraltar Police in arresting the IRA members—identified by MI5 officers who had been in Gibraltar for several weeks—if they were seen parking a car in Gibraltar and then attempting to leave the territory.

Events of 6 March

 

Proposed site of IRA car bomb by Southport Gates

 

According to the official account of the operation, Savage entered Gibraltar undetected in a white Renault 5 at 12:45 (CET; UTC+1) on 6 March 1988. An MI5 officer recognised him and he was followed, but he was not positively identified for almost an hour and a half, during which time he parked the vehicle in the car park used as the assembly area for the changing of the guard. At 14:30, McCann and Farrell were observed crossing the frontier from Spain and were also followed.

They met Savage in the car park at around 14:50 and a few minutes later the three began walking through the town. After the three left the car park, “Soldier G”,[note 1] a bomb-disposal officer, was ordered to examine Savage’s car; he returned after a few minutes and reported that the vehicle should be treated as a suspect car bomb. This soldier’s suspicion was conveyed as certainty to Soldiers “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D”, who were ordered into positions to intercept Savage, McCann, and Farrell as they walked north towards the Spanish border. “Soldier G”‘s information convinced Gibraltar Police Commissioner Joseph Canepa, who was controlling the operation, to order the arrest of the three suspects. To that end, he signed over control of the operation to “Soldier F”, the senior SAS officer, at 15:40.

Two minutes after receiving control, “Soldier F” ordered Soldiers “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D” to apprehend the IRA operatives, by which time they were walking north on Winston Churchill Avenue towards the airport and the border. As the soldiers approached, the suspects appeared to realise that they were being followed. Savage split from the group and began heading south, brushing against “Soldier A” as he did so; “A” and “B” decided to continue approaching McCann and Farrell, leaving Savage to Soldiers “C” and “D”.

 

Location between Corral Road and Landport in Gibraltar where Savage was shot

At the same time as the police handed control over to the SAS, they began making arrangements for the IRA operatives once they were in custody, including finding a police vehicle in which to transport the prisoners. A patrol car containing Inspector Luis Revagliatte and three other uniformed officers, apparently on routine patrol and with no knowledge of Operation Flavius, was ordered to return to police headquarters as a matter of urgency.

The police car was stuck in heavy traffic travelling north on Smith Dorrien Avenue, close to the roundabout where it meets Winston Churchill Avenue.  The official account states that at this point, Revagliatte’s driver activated the siren on the police car in order to expedite the journey back to headquarters, intending to approach the roundabout from the wrong side of the road and turn the vehicle around.

The siren apparently startled McCann and Farrell, just as Soldiers “A” and “B” were about to challenge them, outside the Shell petrol station on Winston Churchill Avenue. “Soldier A” stated at the inquest that Farrell looked back at him and appeared to realise who “A” was; “A” testified that he was drawing his pistol and intended to shout a challenge to her, but “events overtook the warning”:  that McCann’s right arm “moved aggressively across the front of his body”, leading “A” to believe that McCann was reaching for a remote detonator. “A” shot McCann once in the back; “A” went on to tell the inquest that he believed Farrell then reached for her handbag, and that he believed Farrell may also have been reaching for a remote detonator. “A”

also shot Farrell once in the back, before returning to McCann—he shot McCann a further three times (once in the body and twice in the head). “Soldier B” testified that he reached similar conclusions to “A”, and shot Farrell twice, then McCann once or twice, then returned to Farrell, shooting her a further three times. Soldiers “C” and “D” testified at the inquest that they were moving to apprehend Savage, who was by now 300 feet (91 metres) south of the petrol station, as gunfire began behind them. “Soldier C” testified that Savage turned around while simultaneously reaching towards his jacket pocket at the same time as “C” shouted “Stop!”; “C” stated that he believed Savage was reaching for a remote detonator, at which point he opened fire. “Soldier C” shot Savage six times, while “Soldier D” fired nine times.

All three IRA members died. One of the soldiers’ bullets, believed to have passed through Farrell, grazed a passer-by.

Immediately after the shootings, the soldiers donned berets to identify themselves. Gibraltar Police officers, including Inspector Revagliatte and his men, began to arrive at the scene almost immediately. At 16:05, only 25 minutes after assuming control, the SAS commander handed control of the operation back to the Gibraltar Police in a document stating:

A military assault force completed the military option in respect of the terrorist ASU in Gibraltar and returns control to the civil power.

Shortly after the shootings, soldiers and police officers evacuated buildings in the vicinity of the Convent, while bomb-disposal experts got to work; four hours later, the authorities announced that a car bomb had been defused, after which Savage’s white Renault was towed from the car park by an army truck. The SAS personnel, meanwhile, left Gibraltar on a Royal Air Force aircraft.[27]

When the bodies were searched, a set of car keys was found on Farrell. Spanish and British authorities conducted enquiries to trace the vehicle, which—two days after the shootings—led them to a red Ford Fiesta in a car park in Marbella (50 miles [80 kilometres] from Gibraltar). The car contained a large quantity of Semtex surrounded by 200 rounds of ammunition, along with four detonators and two timers

Reaction

Within minutes of the military operation ending, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a press release, stating that “a suspected car bomb has been found in Gibraltar, and three suspects have been shot dead by the civilian police”. That evening, both the BBC and the ITN (Independent Television News) reported that the IRA team had been involved in a “shootout” with the authorities. The following morning, BBC Radio 4 reported that the alleged bomb was “packed with bits of metal and shrapnel”, and later carried a statement from Ian Stewart, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, that “military personnel were involved. A car bomb was found, which has been defused”.

Each of the eleven British daily newspapers reported the alleged finding of the car bomb, of which eight quoted its size as 500 pounds (230 kilograms). The IRA issued a statement later on 7 March to the effect that McCann, Savage, and Farrell were “on active service” in Gibraltar and had “access to and control over 140 pounds (64 kg)” of Semtex.

According to one case study of the killings, the events “provide an opportunity to examine the ideological functioning of the news media within [the Troubles]”.

The British broadsheet newspapers all exhibited what the authors called “ideological closure” by marginalising the IRA and extolling the SAS. Each of the broadsheets focused, for example, on the alleged bomb and the potential devastation it could have caused without questioning the government’s version of events.

At 15:30 (GMT) on 7 March, the foreign secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, made a statement to the House of Commons:

Shortly before 1:00pm yesterday, afternoon [Savage] brought a white Renault car into Gibraltar and was seen to park it in the area where the guard mounting ceremony assembles. Before leaving the car, he was seen to spend some time making adjustments in the vehicle

An hour and a half later, [McCann and Farrell] were seen to enter Gibraltar on foot and shortly before 3:00pm, joined [Savage] in the town. Their presence and actions near the parked Renault car gave rise to strong suspicions that it contained a bomb, which appeared to be corroborated by a rapid technical examination of the car.

About 3:30pm, all three left the scene and started to walk back towards the border. On their way to the border, they were challenged by the security forces. When challenged, they made movements which led the military personnel, operating in support of the Gibraltar Police, to conclude that their own lives and the lives of others were under threat. In light of this response, they [the IRA members] were shot.

Those killed were subsequently found not to have been carrying arms.

The parked Renault car was subsequently dealt with by a military bomb-disposal team. It has now been established that it did not contain an explosive device.

Press coverage in the following days, after Howe’s statement that no bomb had been found, continued to focus on the act planned by the IRA; several newspapers reported a search for a fourth member of the team. Reports of the discovery of the bomb in Marbella appeared to vindicate the government’s version of events and justify the killings. Several MPs made statements critical of the operation, while a group of Labour MPs tabled a condemnatory motion in the House of Commons.

Aftermath

The IRA notified the McCann, Savage, and Farrell families of the deaths on the evening of 6 March. In Belfast, Joe Austin, a senior local member of Sinn Féin, was assigned the task of recovering the bodies for burial. On 9 March, he and Terence Farrell (one of Mairéad Farrell’s brothers) travelled to Gibraltar to identify the bodies. Austin negotiated a charter aircraft to collect the corpses from Gibraltar and fly them to Ireland on 14 March. Two thousand people waited to meet the coffins in Dublin, which were then driven north to Belfast.

Northern Irish authorities flooded the neighbourhoods where McCann, Farrell and Savage had lived with soldiers and police to try to prevent public displays of sympathy for the dead. Later that evening, a local IRA member, Kevin McCracken, was shot and allegedly then beaten to death by a group of soldiers he had been attempting to shoot at.

At the border, the authorities met the procession with a large number of police and military vehicles, and insisted on intervals between the hearses, causing tensions between the police and the members of the procession and leading to accusations that the police rammed Savage’s hearse.

The animosity between the mourners and the police continued until the procession split to allow the hearses to travel to the respective family homes, and then on to Milltown cemetery. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) agreed to maintain a minimal presence at the funeral in exchange for guarantees from the families that there would be no salute by masked gunmen.

This agreement was leaked to Michael StoneDuring the funeral, Stone, who described himself as a “freelance Loyalist paramilitary”, threw several hand grenades into the congregation, before firing an automatic pistol at the gathered mourners, injuring 60 people. After initial confusion, several of the mourners began to pursue Stone, throwing rocks and shouting abuse. Stone fired on his pursuers, hitting and killing three. He was eventually captured by members of the crowd, who had chased him onto a road, and beaten him with rocks and makeshift weapons until the RUC arrived to extract him and arrest him.

The funeral of Caoimhín Mac Brádaigh (née Kevin Brady), the third and last of the Milltown attack victims to be buried, was scheduled for 19 March. 

As his cortège proceeded along Andersontown Road, a car being driven by two British Army corporals, David Howes and Derek Wood, entered the street and sped past two teams of stewards, who were attempting to direct traffic out of the procession’s path. As the corporals continued along Andersontown Road, they came across the cortège, and mounted the footpath to avoid colliding with it.

They continued until blocked by parked cars, at which point they attempted to reverse, but were blocked by vehicles from the cortège and a hostile crowd surrounded their vehicle.

As members of the crowd began to break into the vehicle, some using makeshift weapons, one of the corporals drew and fired a pistol, which momentarily subdued the crowd, before both men were dragged from the car, beaten and disarmed. Shortly afterwards, the corporals were dragged across the road to Casement Park, where they were beaten further. A local priest intervened to stop the beating, but was pulled away when a military identity card was discovered, raising speculation that the corporals were members of the SAS.

The two were bundled semi-conscious over a wall by IRA operatives, who jumped over the wall and forced the corporals into the back of a black taxi and sped away. The taxi took the corporals and the IRA men to an area of waste ground in West Belfast, the IRA men continuing to beat the soldiers en route. Six men were seen leaving the vehicle.

The two corporals, apparently dazed from their injuries, staggered from the taxi, but were quickly restrained. Another IRA man arrived with a pistol taken from one of the soldiers, with which he repeatedly shot each of the corporals before handing the weapon to another man, who shot the corporals’ bodies multiple times. Margaret Thatcher described the corporals’ killings as the “single most horrifying event in Northern Ireland” during her premiership.

The shootings sparked the largest criminal investigation in Northern Ireland’s history, which created fresh tension in Belfast as republicans saw what they believed was a disparity in the efforts the RUC expended in investigating the corporals’ murders compared with those of republican civilians. Over four years, more than 200 people were arrested in connection with the killings, of whom 41 were charged with a variety of offences.

The first of the so-named “Casement Trials” concluded quickly; two men were found guilty of murder and given life sentences in the face of overwhelming evidence. Of the trials that followed, many were based on weaker evidence and proved much more controversial.

“Death on the Rock”

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Death On The Rock, SAS execute IRA cell in Gibraltar, Thames Television (1988)

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On 28 April 1988, almost two months after the Gibraltar shootings, ITV broadcast an episode of its current affairs series This Week, produced by Thames Television, entitled “Death on the Rock”. This Week sent three journalists to investigate the circumstances surrounding the shootings from both Spain and Gibraltar.

Using eyewitness accounts, and with the cooperation of the Spanish authorities, the documentary reconstructed the events leading up to the shootings; the Spanish police assisted in the reconstruction of the surveillance operation mounted against the IRA members as they travelled around Spain in the weeks before 6 March, and the journalists hired a helicopter to film the route.

In Gibraltar, they located several new eyewitnesses to the shootings, who each said they had seen McCann, Savage, and Farrell shot without warning or shot after they had fallen to the ground; most agreed to be filmed and provided signed statements. One witness, Kenneth Asquez, provided two near-identical statements through intermediaries, but refused to meet with the journalists or sign either statement. After failing to persuade Asquez to sign his statement, the journalists eventually incorporated his account of seeing Savage shot while on the ground into the programme.

For technical advice, the journalists engaged Lieutenant Colonel George Styles GC, a retired British Army officer who was regarded as an expert in explosives and ballistics. Styles believed that it would have been obvious to the authorities that Savage’s car was unlikely to contain a bomb as the weight would have been obvious on the vehicle’s springs; he also expressed his opinion that a remote detonator could not have reached the car park from the scenes of the shootings given the number of buildings and other obstacles between the locations

As the government refused to comment on the shootings until the inquest, the documentary concluded by putting its evidence to a leading human rights lawyer, who expressed his belief that a judicial inquiry was necessary to establish the facts surrounding the shootings.

The documentary attracted considerable controversy. On 26 April, two days before the programme was scheduled for broadcast, Sir Geoffrey Howe telephoned the chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to request that the authority delay the broadcast until after the inquest on the grounds that it risked prejudicing the proceedings. After viewing the programme and taking legal advice, the IBA decided on the morning of 28 April that “Death on the Rock” should be broadcast as scheduled, and Howe was informed of the decision. Howe made further representation to the IBA that the documentary would be in contempt of the inquest; after taking further legal advice, the IBA upheld its decision to allow the broadcast.

The programme was broadcast at 21:00 (GMT) on 28 April. The following morning, the British tabloid newspapers lambasted the programme, describing it as a “slur” on the SAS and “trial by television”,  while several criticised the IBA for allowing the documentary to be broadcast.

Over the following weeks, newspapers repeatedly printed stories about the documentary’s witnesses, in particular Carmen Proetta, who gave an account of seeing McCann and Farrell shot without warning by soldiers who arrived in a Gibraltar Police car. Proetta subsequently sued several newspapers for libel and won substantial damages.

The Sunday Times conducted its own investigation and reported that “Death on the Rock” had misrepresented the views of its witnesses; the witnesses involved later complained to other newspapers that “The Sunday Times” had distorted their comments.

Inquest

Unusually for Gibraltar, there was a long delay between the shootings and the setting of a date for the inquest (the usual method for investigating sudden or controversial deaths in the United Kingdom and its territories); eight weeks after the shootings, the coroner, Felix Pizzarello, announced that the inquest would begin on 27 June. Two weeks later (unknown to Pizzarello), Margaret Thatcher’s press secretary announced that the inquest had been indefinitely postponed.

The inquest began on 6 September.  Pizzarello presided over the proceedings, while eleven jurors evaluated the evidence; representing the Gibraltar government was Eric Thislewaite, the Gibraltar attorney general. The interested parties were represented by John LawsQC (for the British government), Michael Hucker (for the SAS personnel), and Patrick McGrory (for the families of McCann, Farrell, and Savage). Inquests are non-adversarial proceedings aimed at investigating the circumstances of a death; the investigation is conducted by the coroner, while the representatives of interested parties can cross-examine witnesses.

Where the death occurred through the deliberate action of another person, the jury can return a verdict of “lawful killing”, “unlawful killing”, or an “open verdict“; though inquests cannot apportion blame, in the case of a verdict of unlawful killing the authorities will consider whether any prosecutions should be brought. There was initially doubt as to whether the SAS personnel involved in the shootings would appear at the inquest. Inquests have no powers to compel witnesses to appear if the witness is outside the court’s jurisdiction, although the soldiers apparently volunteered after Pizzarello declared that the inquest would be “meaningless” without their evidence.

The soldiers and MI5 officers gave their evidence anonymously and from behind a screen. As the inquest began, observers including Amnesty International expressed concern that McGrory was at a disadvantage, as all of the other lawyers were privy to the evidence of the SAS and MI5 personnel before it was given. The cost of the transcript for each day’s proceedings was increased ten-fold the day before the inquest began.

In total, the inquest heard evidence from 79 witnesses, including the Gibraltar Police officers, MI5 personnel, and SAS soldiers involved in the operation, along with technical experts and civilian eyewitnesses.

Police, military, and MI5 witnesses

 

The first witnesses to testify were the Gibraltar Police officers involved in the operation and its aftermath. Following them, on 7 September, was “Mr O”, the senior MI5 officer in charge of Operation Flavius. “O” told the inquest that, in January 1988, Belgian authorities found a car being used by IRA operatives in Brussels. In the car were found a quantity of Semtex, detonators, and equipment for a radio detonation device, which, “O” told the coroner, led MI5 to the conclusion that the IRA might use a similar device for the planned attack in Gibraltar.

MI5 further believed that the IRA had been unlikely to use a “blocking car” (an empty vehicle used to hold a parking space until the bombers bring in the vehicle containing the explosives) as this entailed the added risk of multiple border crossings.

Finally, “O” told the coroner that McCann, Savage, and Farrell had been observed by Spanish authorities arriving at Malaga Airport, after which he claimed the trio had been lost, and that the British and Gibraltarian authorities did not detect them crossing the border.

Joseph Canepa, commissioner of the Gibraltar Police, was the next senior figure to testify. He told the inquest that (contrary to McGrory’s assertions) there had been no conspiracy to kill McCann, Savage, and Farrell. Canepa told the coroner that, upon learning of the IRA plot from MI5, he set up an advisory committee, which consisted of MI5 officials, senior military officers, and the commissioner himself; as events developed, the committee decided that the Gibraltar Police was not adequately equipped to counter the IRA threat, and Canepa requested assistance from London. The commissioner gave assurances that he had been in command of the operation against the IRA at all times, except for the 25 minutes during which he signed over control to the military.[note 2] In his cross-examination,

McGrory queried the level of control the commissioner had over the operation; he extracted from Canepa that the commissioner had not requested assistance from the SAS specifically. Canepa agreed with “O” that the Spanish police had lost track of the IRA team, and that Savage’s arrival in Gibraltar took the authorities by surprise. Although a police officer was stationed in an observation post at the border with instructions for alerting other officers to the arrival of the IRA team, Canepa told the inquest that the officer had been looking for the three IRA members arriving at once. When pressed, he told McGrory he was “unsure” whether or not the officer had the details of the false passports the trio were travelling under.

Two days after Canepa’s testimony concluded, Detective Constable Charles Huart, the Gibraltar Police officer in the observation post at the border on 6 March, appeared. When cross-examined, Huart denied knowing the pseudonyms under which the IRA team were travelling. On cross-examination, Huart acknowledged having been provided with the pseudonyms at a briefing the night before the shootings. Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Joseph Ullger, head of the Gibraltar Police Special Branch, offered a different account when he gave evidence the following day.

He told the coroner that the Spanish border guards had let Savage through out of carelessness, while the regular border officials on the Gibraltar side had not been told to look for the IRA team.

“Soldier F”, a British Army colonel who was in command of the SAS detachment involved in Operation Flavius, took the stand on 12 September.

“F” was followed the next day by “Soldier E”, a junior SAS officer who was directly responsible for the soldiers who carried out the shootings.[70] After the officers, the inquest heard from Soldiers “A”, “B”, “C”, and “D”, the SAS soldiers who shot McCann, Savage, and Farrell. The SAS personnel all told the coroner that they had been briefed to expect the would-be bombers to be in possession of a remote detonator, and that they had been told that Savage’s car definitely contained a bomb.

Each soldier testified that the IRA team made movements which the soldiers believed to be threatening, and this prompted the soldiers to open fire. McGrory asked about the SAS’s policy on lethal force during cross-examination; he asked “D” about allegations that Savage was shot while on the ground, something “D” strenuously denied. McGrory asked “D” if he had intended to continue shooting Savage until he was dead, to which “D” replied in the affirmative.

Several Gibraltar Police officers, including Special Branch officers, gave evidence about the aftermath of the shootings and the subsequent police investigation. Immediately after the shootings, the soldiers’ shell casings were removed from the scene (making it difficult to assess where the soldiers were standing when they fired); two Gibraltar Police officers testified to collecting the casings, one for fear that they might be stolen and the other on the orders of a superior.

 

Statements from other police and military witnesses revealed that the Gibraltar Police had lost evidence and that the soldiers did not give statements to the police until over a week after the shootings.

Civilian witnesses

 

A white Renault 5, similar to that driven into Gibraltar by Sean Savage and later suspected to contain a bomb.

 

One of the first witnesses with no involvement in Operation Flavius to give evidence to the inquest was Allen Feraday, Principal Scientific Officer at the Royal Armaments Research and Development Establishment. He posited that a remote detonator could reach from the scenes of the shootings to the car park in which Savage had left the white Renault and beyond. On cross-examination, he stated that the aerial on the Renault was not the type he would expect to be used for receiving a detonation signal, adding that the IRA had not been known to use a remote-detonated bomb without a direct line of sight to their target.

The following day, “Soldier G” (who had made the determination that the white Renault contained a bomb) told the coroner that he was not an explosives expert, and that his assessment was based on his belief that the vehicle’s aerial looked “too new”. Dissatisfied, McGrory called his own expert witness—Dr Michael Scott, an expert in radio-controlled detonation—who disagreed with government witnesses that a bomb at the assembly area could have been detonated from the petrol station where McCann and Farrell were shot, having conducted tests prior to testifying.

The government responded by commissioning its own tests, conducted by British Army signallers, which showed that radio communication between the petrol station and the car park was possible, but not guaranteed.

Professor Alan Watson, a British forensic pathologist, carried out a post-mortem examination of the bodies. Watson arrived in Gibraltar the day after the shootings, by which time the bodies had been taken to the Royal Navy Hospital; he found that the bodies had been stripped of their clothing (causing difficulties in distinguishing entry and exit wounds), that the mortuary had no X-ray machine (which would have allowed Watson to track the paths of the bullets through the bodies), and that he was refused access to any other X-ray machine. After the professor returned to his home in Scotland, he was refused access to the results of blood tests and other evidence which had been sent for analysis and was dissatisfied with the photographs taken by the Gibraltar Police photographer who had assisted him.

At the inquest, McGrory noted and questioned the lack of assistance given to the pathologist, which Watson told him was “a puzzle”.

Watson concluded that McCann had been shot four times—once in the jaw (possibly a ricochet), once in the head, and twice in the back; Farrell was shot five times (twice in the face and three times in the back). Watson was unable to determine exactly how many times Savage was shot—he estimated that it was possibly as many as eighteen times. McGrory asked Watson whether the pathologist would agree that Savage’s body was “riddled with bullets”; Watson’s answer made headlines the following morning:

“I concur with your word. Like a frenzied attack”.

Watson agreed that the evidence suggested the deceased were shot while on the ground; a second pathologist called by McGrory offered similar findings. Two weeks later, the court heard from David Pryor—a forensic scientist working for London’s Metropolitan Police—who had analysed the clothes of the dead; he told the inquest his analysis had been hampered by the condition of the clothing when it arrived. Pryor offered evidence contradictory to that given by Soldiers “A” and “B” about their proximity to McCann and Farrell when they opened fire—the soldiers claimed they were at least six feet (1.8 metres) away, but Pryor’s analysis was that McCann and Farrell were shot from a distance of no more than two or three feet (0.6 or 0.9 metres).

Aside from experts and security personnel, several eyewitnesses gave evidence to the inquest. Three witnessed parts of the shootings, and gave accounts which supported the official version of events—in particular, they did not witness the SAS shooting any of the suspects while they were on the floor.[83] Witnesses uncovered by the journalists making “Death on the Rock” also appeared: Stephen Bullock repeated his account of seeing McCann and Savage raise their hands before the SAS shot them; Josie Celecia repeated her account of seeing a soldier shooting at McCann and Farrell while the pair were on the ground.

Hucker pointed out that parts of Celecia’s testimony had changed since she spoke to “Death on the Rock”, and suggested that the gunfire she heard was from the shooting of Savage rather than sustained shooting of McCann and Farrell while they were on the ground, a suggestion Celecia rejected; the SAS’s lawyer further observed that she was unable to identify the military personnel in photographs her husband had taken.

Maxie Proetta told the coroner that he had witnessed four men (three in plain clothes and one uniformed Gibraltar Police officer) arriving opposite the petrol station on Winston Churchill Avenue; the men jumped over the central reservation barrier and Farrell put her hands up, after which he heard a series of shots. In contrast to his wife’s testimony, he believed that Farrell’s gesture was one of self-defence rather than surrender, and he believed that the shots he heard did not come from the men from the police car.

The government lawyers suggested that the police car the Proettas saw was the one being driven by Inspector Revagliatte, carrying four uniformed police officers rather than plain-clothed soldiers, but Proetta was adamant that the lawyers’ version did not make sense. His wife gave evidence the following day.[note 3] Contrary to her statement to “Death on the Rock”, Carmen Proetta was no longer certain that she had seen McCann and Savage shot while on the ground. The government lawyers questioned the reliability of Proetta’s evidence based on her changes, and implied that she behaved suspiciously by giving evidence to “Death on the Rock” before the police. She responded that the police had not spoken to her about the shootings until after “Death on the Rock” had been shown.

Asquez, who provided an unsworn statement to the “Death on the Rock” team through an intermediary, which the journalists included in the programme, reluctantly appeared. He retracted the statements he made to “Death on the Rock”, which he claimed he had made up after “pestering” from Major Bob Randall (another “Death on the Rock” witness, who had sold the programme a video recording of the aftermath of the shootings).[note 4]

The British media covered Asquez’s retraction extensively, while several members of parliament accused Asquez of lying for the television (and “Death on the Rock” of encouraging him) in an attempt to discredit the SAS and the British government. Nonetheless, Pizzarello asked Asquez if he could explain why his original statement mentioned the Soldiers “C” and “D” donning berets, showing identity cards, and telling members of the public “it’s okay, it’s the police” after shooting Savage (details which were not public before the inquest); Asquez replied that he could not, because he was “a bit confused”.

Verdict

The inquest concluded on 30 September, and Laws and McGrory made their submissions to the coroner regarding the instructions he should give to the jury (Hucker allowed Laws to speak on his behalf). Laws asked the coroner to instruct the jury not to return a verdict of “unlawful killing” on the grounds that there had been a conspiracy to murder the IRA operatives within the British government, as he believed that no evidence had been presented at the inquest to support such a conclusion. He did also allow for the possibility that the SAS personnel had individually acted unlawfully.

McGrory, on the other hand, asked the coroner to allow for the possibility that the British government had conspired to murder McCann, Savage, and Farrell, which he believed was evidenced by the decision to use the SAS for Operation Flavius. The decision, according to McGrory was

wholly unreasonable and led to a lot of what happened afterwards…it started a whole chain of unreasonable decisions which led to the three killings, which I submit were unlawful and criminal killings.

When the coroner asked McGrory to clarify whether he believed there had been a conspiracy to murder the IRA operatives, he responded

that the choice of the SAS is of great significance…If the killing of the ASU was, in fact, contemplated by those who chose the SAS, as an act of counter-terror or vengeance, that steps outside the rule of law and it was murder…and that is a matter for the jury to consider.

After listening to both arguments, Pizzarello summarised the evidence for the jury and instructed them that they could return a verdict of “unlawful killing” under any of five circumstances, including if they were satisfied that there had been a conspiracy within the British government to murder the three suspected terrorists. He also urged the jury to return a conclusive verdict, rather than the “ambiguity” of an “open verdict”, and instructed them not to make recommendations or add a rider to their verdict.

The jury retired at 11:30 to start their deliberations. Pizzarello summoned them back after six hours with the warning that they were “at the edge” of the time in which they were allowed to come to a verdict. Just over two hours later, the jury returned. By a majority of nine to two, they returned a verdict of lawful killing.

Following the inquest, evidence came to light to contradict the version of events presented by the British government at the inquest. Six weeks after the conclusion of the inquest, a Gibraltar Police operations order leaked; the document listed Inspector Revagliatte, who had claimed to be on routine patrol, unaware of Operation Flavius, and whose siren apparently triggered the shootings, as the commander of two police firearms teams assigned to the operation.

In February 1989, British journalists discovered that the IRA team operating in Spain must have contained more members than the three killed in Gibraltar. The staff at the agencies from which the team rented their vehicles gave the Spanish police descriptions which did not match McCann, Savage, or Farrell; Savage’s white Renault, meanwhile, was rented several hours before Savage himself arrived in Spain.

It emerged that the Spanish authorities knew where McCann and Savage were staying; a senior Spanish police officer repeatedly told journalists that the IRA cell had been under surveillance throughout their time in Spain, and that the Spanish told the British authorities that they did not believe that the three were in possession of a bomb on 6 March. Although the Spanish government remained silent about the claims and counter-claims, it honoured 22 police officers at a secret awards ceremony for Spanish participants in Operation Flavius in December 1988, and a government minister told a press conference in March 1989 that “we followed the terrorists. They were completely under our control”.

The same month, a journalist discovered that the Spanish side of the operation was conducted by the Foreign Intelligence Brigade rather than the local police as the British government had suggested.

The Independent and Private Eye conjectured as to the reason for the Spanish government’s silence—in 1988, Spain was attempting to join the Western European Union, but was opposed by Britain (which was already a member); the papers’ theory was that Margaret Thatcher’s government placed political pressure on the Spanish, and that Britain later dropped its opposition in exchange for the Spanish government’s silence on Operation Flavius.

Legal proceedings

In March 1990, almost two years after the shootings, the McCann, Savage, and Farrell families began proceedings against the British government at the High Court in London. The case was dismissed on the grounds that Gibraltar was not part of the United Kingdom, and was thus outside the court’s jurisdiction.

The families launched an appeal, but withdrew it in the belief that it had no prospect of success.[62] The families proceeded to apply to the European Commission of Human Rights for an opinion on whether the authorities’ actions in Gibraltar violated Article 2 (the “right to life”) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Issuing its report in April 1993, the commission criticised the conduct of the operation, but found that there had been no violation of Article 2. Nevertheless, the commission referred the case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for a final decision.[103][104]

The British government submitted that the killings were “absolutely necessary”, within the meaning of Article 2, paragraph 2, to protect the people of Gibraltar from unlawful violence, because the soldiers who carried out the shootings genuinely believed that McCann, Savage, and Farrell were capable of detonating a car bomb, and of doing so by remote control. The families contested the government’s claim, alleging that the government had conspired to kill the three; that the planning and control of the operation was flawed; that the inquest was not adequately equipped to investigate the killings; and that the applicable laws of Gibraltar were not compliant with Article 2 of the ECHR.

The court found that the soldiers’ “reflex action” in resorting to lethal force was excessive, but that the soldiers’ actions did not—in their own right—give rise to a violation of Article 2. The court held that the soldiers’ use of force based on an honestly held belief (that the suspects were armed or in possession of a remote detonator) could be justified, even if that belief was later found to be mistaken. To hold otherwise would, in the court’s opinion, place too great a burden on law-enforcement personnel.

It also dismissed all other allegations, except that regarding the planning and control of the operation. In that respect, the court found that the authorities’ failure to arrest the suspects as they crossed the border or earlier, combined with the information that was passed to the soldiers, rendered the use of lethal force almost inevitable. Thus, the court decided there had been a violation of Article 2 in the control of the operation.

As the three suspects had been killed while preparing an act of terrorism, the court rejected the families’ claims for damages, as well as their claim for expenses incurred at the inquest. The court did order the British government to pay the applicants’ costs incurred during the proceedings in Strasbourg. The government initially suggested it would not pay, and there was discussion in parliament of the UK withdrawing from the ECHR. It paid the costs on 24 December 1995, within days of the three-month deadline which had been set by the court.

Long-term impact

A history of the Gibraltar Police described Operation Flavius as “the most controversial and violent event” in the history of the force, while journalist Nicholas Eckert described the incident as “one of the great controversies of the Troubles” and academic Richard English posited that the “awful sequence of interwoven deaths” was one of the conflict’s “most strikingly memorable and shocking periods”.

The explosives the IRA intended to use in Gibraltar were believed to have come from Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi who was known to be supplying arms to the IRA in the 1980s; some sources speculated that Gibraltar was chosen for its relative proximity to Libya, and the targeting of the territory was intended as a gesture of gratitude to Gaddafi.[7][110][111][112][113]

Maurice Punch, an academic specialising in policing issues, described the ECtHR verdict as “a landmark case with important implications” for the control of police operations involving firearms.[15] According to Punch, the significance of the ECtHR judgement was that it placed accountability for the failures in the operation with its commanders, rather than with the soldiers who carried out the shooting itself. Punch believed that the ruling demonstrated that operations intended to arrest suspects should be conducted by civilian police officers, rather than soldiers.

The case is considered a landmark in cases concerning Article 2, particularly in upholding the principle that Article 2, paragraph 2, defines circumstances in which it is permissible to use force which may result in a person’s death as an unintended consequence, rather than circumstances in which it is permissible to intentionally deprive a person of their life. It has been cited in later ECtHR cases concerning the use of lethal force by police.

After the inquest verdict, the Governor of Gibraltar, Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Terry declared “Even in this remote place, there is no place for terrorists.” In apparent revenge for his role in Operation Flavius, Terry and his wife, Lady Betty Terry, were shot and seriously injured in front of their daughter when IRA paramilitaries opened fire on the Terry home in Staffordshire two years later, in September 1990.

Following Kenneth Asquez’s retraction of the statement he gave to “Death on the Rock” and his allegation that he was pressured into giving a false account of the events he witnessed, the IBA contacted Thames Television to express its concern and to raise the possibility of an investigation into the making of the documentary. Thames eventually agreed to commission an independent inquiry into the programme (the first such inquiry into an individual programme), to be conducted by two people with no connection to either Thames or the IBA; Thames engaged Lord Windlesham and Richard Rampton, QC to conduct the investigation.

In their report, published in January 1989, Windlesham and Rampton levelled several criticisms at “Death on the Rock”, but found it to be a “trenchant” piece of work made in “good faith and without ulterior motives”. In conclusion, the authors believed that “Death on the Rock” proved “freedom of expression can prevail in the most extensive, and the most immediate, of all the means of mass communication”

 

See Corporal Killings

See Michael Stone