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Context of 'February 21, 1991: Iraq Fires Scuds at US/Saudi Military Base'

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One of the US Army Patriot batteries deployed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia that destroyed Iraqi Scuds.One of the US Army Patriot batteries deployed in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia that destroyed Iraqi Scuds. [Source: US Army]Iraqi forces launch seven Scud missiles at targets inside Israel. US forces intercept one of the Scuds over Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, with a Patriot anti-missile battery. The Israeli government agrees to a US request not to retaliate with its own military strike against Iraq. Two days later, the Pentagon redeploys several Patriot batteries from their bases in Europe into the region. (American Forces Press Service 8/8/2000) This is the first of a number of Scud attacks by Iraq against Israeli targets. Many believe that Iraq’s intention in attacking Israel—announced before the war—is to draw Israel into the conflict and thus draw other Arab countries into the war in support of Iraq, particularly Jordan and/or Syria. Israel, pressured by the US, refuses to retaliate. The Scuds that are fired at Israel have been drastically modified to fly much farther distances than they were originally designed to do, and as a result they are wildly inaccurate. A common joke among US military and civilian personnel is: “How many Iraqis does it take to launch a Scud? Two: one to launch the missile and another to watch CNN to see where it lands.” (NationMaster 12/23/2007)

A NASA satellite photo of King Khalid Military City.A NASA satellite photo of King Khalid Military City. [Source: NASA / Public domain]Czech and French units stationed near the Iraq-Saudi border report seven detections of chemical weapons—nerve and blister agents—in the vicinities of Hafar al Batin and King Khalid Military City (KKMC) in Saudi Arabia. (Illnesses 7/29/1998) (KKMC is more of a military base than a city, built by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the 1970s and 1980s to house US and Saudi troops. It is one of the central hubs of US air strikes into Iraq.) (NationMaster 2005) None of the detections are reported as life-threatening, and none can be independently verified, though both the US Defense Department and CIA will later find the reports to be valid. (Illnesses 7/29/1998; Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses 1/20/2008)

Iraqi forces launch four Scud missiles at the US/Saudi military base in King Khalid Military City. All four are reportedly destroyed by US Patriot anti-missile batteries. (NationMaster 2005)

The US Energy Department, Defense Department, and the CIA begin conducting classified biodefense programs. (Wheelis and Dando 1/2003)


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