The White House has accused Iranian forces of sabotaging ships in the strategic strait. In response, the US established a multinational operation to guarantee freedom of navigation. The UK joined it earlier this week after a British-flagged tanker was seized last month. But other US allies have rejected calls to join.
Instead, Maas said the German government is pursuing an EU observer mission in the Persian Gulf as a way to guarantee security interests in the region. German officials have supported the plan, saying a European approach is the only way forward.
They argue that joining a US-led operation could unintentionally drag them into a military conflict if war breaks out. We have to live up to them. Every evening, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.
Britain says it will join a US-led mission to protect merchant vessels in the Strait of Hormuz. Germany has rejected joining the mission, which comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the West. The US ambassador in Berlin slammed the decision, saying Germany has responsibilities. Pressure is growing on the German government to lend its military weight to a potential European naval mission in the Persian Gulf. The UK government floated the idea of a joint European operation last Monday. Britain has joined the US in protecting international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
By the end of these raids Iraqi artillery assets had all but ceased to exist. One Iraqi unit that was totally destroyed during the preparation was the Iraqi 48th Infantry Division Artillery Group. On 24 February the 1st Cavalry Division conducted a couple artillery missions against Iraqi artillery units. Task Force Infantry was given the task of breaching Iraq's initial defensive positions along the Iraq—Saudi Arabia border. These defensive positions were occupied by a brigade-sized element. A series of battles unfolded resulting in heavy Iraqi casualties and the Iraqis being removed from their defensive positions with many becoming prisoners of war.
Some escaped to be killed or captured by other coalition forces. The 1st Infantry Division's Task Force Infantry cleared four lanes simultaneously through an enemy fortified trench system while inflicting heavy casualties on Iraqi forces. The ground campaign consisted of three or possibly four of the largest tank battles in American military history. The US 3rd Armored Division destroyed approximately enemy combat vehicles during this particular encounter with Iraqi forces.
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US decoy attacks by air attacks and naval gunfire the night before Kuwait's liberation were designed to make the Iraqis believe the main coalition ground attack would focus on central Kuwait. For months, American units in Saudi Arabia had been under almost constant Iraqi artillery fire, as well as threats from Scud missile or chemical attacks. They encountered trenches, barbed wire, and minefields.
However, these positions were poorly defended, and were overrun in the first few hours. Several tank battles took place, but otherwise coalition troops encountered minimal resistance, as most Iraqi troops surrendered. The general pattern was that the Iraqis would put up a short fight before surrendering.
However, Iraqi air defenses shot down nine US aircraft. Meanwhile, forces from Arab states advanced into Kuwait from the east, encountering little resistance and suffering few casualties. Despite the successes of coalition forces, it was feared that the Iraqi Republican Guard would escape into Iraq before it could be destroyed. It was decided to send British armored forces into Kuwait 15 hours ahead of schedule, and to send US forces after the Republican Guard. The coalition advance was preceded by a heavy artillery and rocket barrage, after which , troops and 1, tanks began their advance.
Iraqi forces in Kuwait counterattacked against US troops, acting on a direct order from Saddam Hussein himself. Despite the intense combat, the Americans repulsed the Iraqis and continued to advance towards Kuwait City. Kuwaiti forces were tasked with liberating the city. Iraqi troops offered only light resistance.
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The Kuwaitis quickly liberated the city despite losing one soldier and having one plane shot down. However, an Iraqi unit at Kuwait International Airport appeared not to have received the message and fiercely resisted.
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US Marines had to fight for hours before securing the airport, after which Kuwait was declared secure. After four days of fighting, Iraqi forces were expelled from Kuwait. As part of a scorched earth policy, they set fire to nearly oil wells and placed land mines around the wells to make extinguishing the fires more difficult.
The war's ground phase was officially designated Operation Desert Saber.
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. 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 15 February , followed by one in force on 20 February that led directly through seven Iraqi divisions which were caught off guard.
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. On 22 February , 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, [ citation needed ] and gave 24 hours for Iraq to withdraw its forces. On 23 February, fighting resulted in the capture of 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 four Americans were killed. This movement's left flank was protected by the French Division Daguet. The st Airborne Division conducted a combat air assault into enemy territory. 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.
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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 US casualties were comparatively low, with a single Bradley knocked out.
They took 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. 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 a considerable amount of military hardware and took prisoners, while suffering no casualties. The missile attack killed 28 US military personnel.