Known as ‘Operation Linebacker II’, the US Seventh Airforce and US Navy Task Force 77, dropped 20,000 tonnes of explosives on North Vietnam at Christmas 1972, killing more than 1,600 Vietnamese. President Richard Nixon was under pressure to end the war in Vietnam as the high number of American casualties was alienating the American public. Images of tortured American prisoners of war and the northern Communist government’s refusal to negotiate on prisoner release were compounding Washington’s poor image. On 18 December 1972, 129 B-52s discharged their bombs over Hanoi in successive waves. This onslaught lasted until 29 December, with a suspension on 25 December. It is thought that Operation Linebacker II acted as a catalyst for the subsequent US withdrawal from Vietnam (29 March 1973) and the signing of the Paris Peace Accords (8 January 1973), in which North Vietnam agreed to release American prisoners of war.
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