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Fighting For Kuwait City

February 27, 1991

The first U.S. forces entered the capital city of Kuwait. There was fierce fighting near the Kuwait International Airport between Iraqis and U.S. Marines. Hassan Sanad, the Kuwaiti Information Ministry deputy director, said simply: "We confirm that Kuwait city is free." U.S. officials remained cautious, however. There were immediate signs of joy and a hint of the problems ahead:

Central Kuwait city: Government buildings, the Royal Palace and major hotels reportedly have been burned or destroyed.

News reports said that some advance troops had reached the U.S. Embassy.

KUWAIT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: A tank battle near the airport continued by nightfall. The U.S. military command said Iraqis may be pulling back there as well.

THE BATTLE

Coalition Troops: The U.S. Command in Riyadh said U.S. Marines were engaging Iraqi tank forces in an intense battle at Kuwait airport and were apparently winning the day. But the command did not say that the city had been liberated. The lightly-armored Marines drove from Saudi Arabia in under three days through border defenses and defeated a heavy-armor Iraqi division. The first Kuwaiti troops of the multinational force entered the city and prepared to raise their national flag to celebrate the liberation of the capital.

The Resistance: After Iraqi soldiers beat a hasty retreat, Kuwaiti resistance leaders were attempting to take control of a battered Kuwait city, moving into police stations and other bases used by the Iraqis and searching through their equipment, Kuwaiti and press accounts said. Small groups of armed Kuwaitis were acting as a militia force.

The Retreat: Pilots aboard the U.S. warship Ranger told pool reporters the Iraqi troops had fled Kuwait city "bumper to bumper" and were attacked on the way out by A-6 Intruders and other aircraft. They said the Iraqis were fleeing north toward the city of Basra in Iraq, presenting a bounty of targets. Iraqi movements were described both as "a withdrawal and a retreat."

THE CITY

Entering the City: CBS News, in a live telecast from Kuwait city, showed Kuwaitis in the city waving flags and singing patriotic songs. Correspondent Bob McKeown described a scene of burned-out Iraqi tanks and other military vehicles as he drove into the city.

The Scene: Iraqi military vehicles in the city were either destroyed or abandoned, some with clothes strewn about, indicating a hasty retreat. There was no electricity and very little water in the city.

Martial Law: The emirate's exiled emir declared martial law throughout Kuwait. Sheik Jabbar al Ahmed al Sabah said a state of martial law would exist for three months. The decree, issued in the Saudi city of Taif--seat of Kuwait's exiled government since August--appointed Crown Prince and Prime Minister Sheik Saad al Abdullah al Sabah as martial governor-general.

The Government: The emir escaped to Saudi Arabia when Iraqi troops overran his country Aug. 2. Allied forces launched an air war against Iraq on Jan. 17 after President Saddam Hussein ignored a U.N. deadline to leave the emirate.

The Damage: Kuwait city government buildings and hotels have been destroyed in the last three days by Iraqi troops using tanks and artillery, Col. Abu Fahad, a member of the Kuwaiti resistance in Kuwait city, said. "It was unbelievable. No nation in the world saw what we've seen here," he said by telephone. "I have seen, by eyes, a lot of my friends and some of our guys executed in front of their families and their houses for nothing, just being in the country."

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