Following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, US forces had been amassed within Saudi Arabia under Operation Desert Shield to offer protection against the threat of an Iraqi invasion and to prepare for the removal of Iraqi forces in Kuwait. The regional coalition, which was organized by the US, saw funds and varying numbers of troops supplied by other Arab countries as well as many others from around the world. The ground force invasion phase of Operation Desert Storm began on 24 February after a lengthy coalition bombing campaign against Iraqi targets led by the US Air Force. By the time the ground invasion, known as Operation Desert Sabre, was launched, separate contingents of US, British and French special forces and conventional units were in position across the Saudi Arabian border. Iraqi forces were positioned mainly in the east towards occupied Kuwait, leaving Iraq itself fairly sparsely defended by ground forces and missiles.
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