Saddam Hussein’s army invaded neighbouring Kuwait in the early hours of August 2, 1990, with nearly 90,000 Iraqi soldiers and 700 tanks crossing the border, quickly overwhelming the forces of the smaller nation.
Helicopters carried commando troops to Dasman Palace, the residence of Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Sabah in Kuwait City though Kuwaiti aircraft were scrambled and inflicted some losses on the invading forces, they eventually had to withdraw, leaving Iraqi tanks free to roll into the city.
As the video above recalls, by the end of the day, hundreds had died in the fighting and resistance across the country was reduced to small pockets of die-hards. The Sheik had already fled to Saudi Arabia but his brother would die attempting to defend the palace.
Saddam and his military would attempt to justify the invasion by claiming Kuwait had been flooding the world oil market, as well as slant-drilling across their border into their Rumalia oil fields; the truth was more likely a simple desire to capture Kuwait’s vast oil reserves.
The invasion was condemned by the international community, with a special session of the United Nations Security Council passing 12 resolutions demanding the unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi troops – while arms sales to the country were embargoed by the USSR and China.
It was to no avail. Communications in and out of the country were cut off, and Saddam quickly installed a puppet government. Looting became rife and there were reports of human rights violations.
Four days later, the UN Security Council imposed a worldwide ban on trade with Iraq. US forces headed to the region to protect Saudi Arabia, while Saddam built up his occupying forces in Kuwait to around 300,000. The inevitable Gulf War would follow in January.