Also known as the first Gulf War or the first Persian Gulf War, the first U.S. conflict with Iraq began shortly after then Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, invaded his neighboring country of Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990. Hussein had accused Kuwait of overproduction of oil and also stealing oil from his Rumaila Oil Fields by angle drilling across the Iraqi border.
In response, and due to fears that Iraq might invade Saudi Arabia next, the United States launched Operation Desert Shield Aug. 7, 1990, and attempted to pressure Iraq via the United Nations to leave Kuwait. A U.N. Security Council resolution gave Iraq until Jan. 15, 1991, to leave or else face an armed response.
Operation Desert Storm commenced Jan. 16, 1991 and consisted of two phases. An air phase consisted of over 100,000 sorties, with aircraft dropping more than 88,000 tons of bombs. A ground campaign began Feb. 21, 1991, and liberated Kuwait City less than 100 hours later.
By March 3, 1991, Iraqi leaders accepted a provisional truce, with a formal ceasefire taking effect April 6, 1991. Enforcement of no-fly zones over the northern and southern portions of Iraq continued, however, until the U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003.