The Battle of Wadi Al-Batin or Battle of Ruqi Pocket
The war’s ground phase was officially designated Operation Desert Saber. 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 could not be detected from the air, as they were hidden under bridges and camouflage netting during the day.
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 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 US Army performed a direct attack into Iraq on 15th February 1991, followed by one in force on 20th February that led directly through seven Iraqi divisions which were caught off guard.
On 17th January 1991 the 101st Airborne Division Aviation Regiment fired the first shots of the war when eight AH-64 helicopters successfully destroyed two Iraqi early warning radar sites. From 15th – 20th 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 US soldiers were killed and nine wounded, with 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 22nd 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 ceasefire, and called for monitoring of the ceasefire and withdrawal to be overseen by the UN Security Council.
The coalition rejected the proposal, but said that retreating Iraqi forces would not be attacked, and gave 24 hours for Iraq to withdraw its forces. On 23rd February, fighting resulted in the capture of 500 Iraqi soldiers. On 24th February, British and American armoured forces crossed the Iraq–Kuwait border and entered Iraq in large numbers, taking hundreds of prisoners. Iraqi resistance was light, and four Americans were killed.
Shortly afterwards, the US VII Corps, in full strength and spearheaded by the 2nd Armoured Cavalry Regiment, launched an armoured attack into Iraq early on 24th February, just to the west of Kuwait, surprising Iraqi forces. Simultaneously, the US XVIII Airborne Corps launched a sweeping “left-hook” attack across southern Iraq’s largely undefended desert, led by the US 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment and the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanised).
This movement’s left flank was protected by the French Division Daguet. The 101st Airborne Division conducted a combat air assault into enemy territory. The 101st Airborne Division had struck 155 miles behind enemy lines. It was the deepest air assault operation in history.
Approximately 400 helicopters transported 2,000 soldiers into Iraq where they destroyed Iraqi columns trying to flee westward and prevented the escape of Iraqi forces.
The 101st Airborne Division travelled a further 50 to 60 miles into Iraq. By nightfall, the 101st cut off Highway 8 which was a vital supply line running between Basra and the Iraqi forces. The 101st had lost 16 soldiers in action during the 100 hour war and captured thousands of enemy prisoners of war.
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 counterattack 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 armoured 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 US casualties were comparatively low, with a single Bradley knocked out. Coalition forces pressed another 10 km 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 US soldier was killed by an Iraqi land mine, another five by friendly fire, and 30 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, US forces attacked the village of Al Busayyah, meeting fierce resistance. The US force destroyed military hardware and took prisoners, while suffering no casualties.
On 25 February 1991, Iraqi forces fired a Scud missile at an American barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The missile attack killed 28 US military personnel.
The coalition’s advance was much swifter than US generals had expected. On 26 February, Iraqi troops began retreating from Kuwait, after they had set 737 of its oil wells 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.
Thousands 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 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.
Take from: https://en.wikipedia.org
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