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Raid on Iraq: Months of tension that led to the brink

The following were the main events leading up to last night's air strikes.


2 Aug - Iraq invades Kuwait and declares it Iraq's 19th province.


17 Jan - US-led allied forces bomb Baghdad, launching air war against Iraqi positions and installations in Iraq and Kuwait.

24 Feb - Ground war begins with allied night attack. More than 14,000 Iraqis captured in first 24 hours.

27 Feb - Iraq offers to accept UN resolutions if allies declare ceasefire. Kuwait's army returns home in triumph.

28 Feb - Allied forces cease fire at 8am Kuwait time - 5am GMT. Baghdad Radio insists Iraq won war.


27 Aug - West threatens to shoot down any Iraqi aircraft south of the 32nd parallel. Western states say aim is to stop Iraq attacking Shias from the air but Iraq says they have secret plan to carve up country.

1 Sept - French aircraft leave for Saudi Arabia to join US and British enforcing no- fly zone.

17 Sept - President George Bush says no-fly zone has stopped air attacks on Shias.

3 Oct - UN Security Council impounds most of Iraq's oil-related assets to buy food and medicine for Kurds in rebel-held areas and start paying compensation to Gulf war victims. Iraq says that is illegal.

9 Oct - Iraqi security personnel seize American Chad Hall on Iraq-Kuwait border. Iraq hands him over to UN the next day.

17 Oct - Iraq-UN accord allows UN to resume relief work.

22 Oct - Bush orders release of some Iraqi assets to pay for UN arms inspections and relief work.

26 Oct - Head of a UN inspection team says information provided by Baghdad on its ballistic weapons programme has gaps.

27 Oct - Iraqi opposition groups meet in Kurd-held north to plan Saddam's overthrow.

23 Nov - UN finishes marking Iraq-Kuwait land border.

24 Nov - UN Security Council rebuffs Iraq's pleas for relaxation of trade sanctions.

19 Dec - UN suspends aid operations to Kurds in northern Iraq; says it wants Baghdad to ensure no more bombs are planted on relief trucks.

23 Dec - Iraq rejects UN request that it let UN guards inspect and protect relief trucks.

27 Dec - US F-16 shoots down an Iraqi MiG in the no-fly zone in southern Iraq. Baghdad threatens to retaliate 'in a suitable manner'. US president-elect Bill Clinton calls incident a test of international resolve against Iraq.

28 Dec - Iraqi jets again enter the no-fly zone.


5 Jan - US officials say Iraq has moved anti-aircraft missiles into southern no-fly zone, possibly as part of a plan to shoot down US aircraft.

7 Jan - US, Britain and France, with Russian backing, give Iraq 48 hours to remove the anti-aircraft missiles from no-fly zone. Iraq rejects the ultimatum.

8 Jan - UN says Iraq refused to let UN planes, including those carrying weapons inspection teams, land in the country.

9 Jan - White House says Iraq backed down and complied with missiles ultimatum. Iraq says it did not.

10 Jan - Iraq denies a UN aircraft permission to land; hundreds of Iraqi workers raid ammunition bunkers in what UN considers Kuwaiti territory and remove weapons including four Silkworm missiles.

11 Jan - Iraq defies protests from the US, Britain, France and Russia; sends workers to dismantle warehouses. Security Council accuses Iraq of repeated violations of Gulf war ceasefire terms and says the consequences will be serious if it does so again.

12 Jan - Iraqi workers come back to resume demolition work on the warehouses.

13 Jan - Allied warplanes launch raids on Iraq.