Battle of Khafji - Battle - Initial Response: 30 January

Initial Response: 30 January

Distressed by the occupation of Khafji, Saudi commander General Khaled bin Sultan appealed to American General Norman Schwarzkopf for an immediate air campaign against Iraqi forces in and around the city. However this was turned down, and it was instead decided that the city would be retaken by Arab forces. The task fell to the 2nd Saudi Arabian National Guard Brigade's 7th Battalion, composed of Saudi infantry and two Qatari tank companies attached to the task force. These were supported by U.S. Army Special Forces and Marine Reconnaissance personnel.

The force was put under the command of Saudi Lieutenant Colonel Matar, who moved out by 17:00 hours. The force met up with elements of the U.S. 3rd Marine Regiment, south of Khafji, and were ordered to directly attack the city. The engagement of that night was to be the first battle the Qatari Army had seen in its entire history. A platoon of Iraqi T-55s attacked a Qatari tank company south of the city, leading to the destruction of three T-55s by Qatari AMX-30s, and the capture of a fourth Iraqi tank. Lacking any coordinated artillery support, artillery fire was provided by the 11th Marine Regiment.

An initial attack on the city was called off after the Iraqi occupants opened up with heavy fire, prompting the Saudis to reinforce the 7th Battalion with two more companies from adjacent Saudi units. The attempt to retake the city had been preceded by a 15-minute preparatory fire from U.S. Marine artillery. However Iraqi fire did manage to destroy one Saudi V-150 armored personnel carrier.

Meanwhile, 2nd Saudi Arabian National Guard Brigade's 5th Battalion moved north of Al-Khafji to block Iraqi reinforcements attempting to reach the city. This unit was further bolstered by the 8th Ministry of Defense and Aviation Brigade, and heavily aided by Coalition air support. Although fear of friendly fire forced the 8th Ministry of Defense and Aviation Brigade to pull back the following morning, Coalition aircraft successfully hindered Iraqi attempts to move more soldiers down to Al-Khafji and caused large numbers of Iraqi troops to surrender to Saudi forces.

That night, two U.S. Army heavy equipment transporters entered the city of Al-Khafji, apparently lost, and were fired upon by Iraqi troops. Although one truck managed to turn around and escape, the two drivers of the second truck were wounded and captured. This led to a rescue mission organized by 3rd Battalion 3rd Marine Regiment, which sent a force of 30 men to extract the two wounded drivers. Although encountering no major opposition, they did not find the two drivers who had, by this time, been taken prisoner. The Marines did find a burnt out Qatari AMX-30, with its dead crew. That same night, a U.S. Air Force AC-130 was shot down by an Iraqi surface to air missile (SAM), killing the aircraft's crew of 14.

The interdiction on the part of Coalition aircraft and Saudi and Qatari ground forces was having an effect on the occupying Iraqi troops. Referring to Saddam Hussein's naming of the ground engagement as the "mother of all battles", Iraqi General Salah radioed in a request to withdraw, stating, "The mother was killing her children." Since the beginning of the battle, Coalition aircraft had flown at least 350 sorties against Iraqi units in the area and on the night of 30–31 January, Coalition air support also began to attack units of the Iraqi Third Corps assembled on the Saudi border.

Read more about this topic:  Battle Of Khafji, Battle

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