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Iraqi Surrender at Safwan Airfield

For more Public Eye satellite imagery, see the Picture of the Week Gallery of satellite and other imagery of places in the news.
For more Public Eye satellite imagery, see the Picture of the Week Gallery of satellite and other imagery of places in the news.

Iraq formally acceeded to coalition terms for a permanent cease-fire at a meeting at Safwan Airfield on March 3, 1991. Safwan Airfield is located six kilometers west of the intersection near Safwan, in Southeastern Iraq, just north of the Kuwait-Iraq border.

The choice of Safwan Airfield as the site for the formal cease-fire ceremony was dictated by a number of factors. These included Gen. Schwarzkopf's desire to conduct a hold the meeting deep inside Iraq so as to reinforce the idea that the Iraqis had been defeated. The location also had to be road-accessible so as to permit the Iraqi delegation to reach it. Safwan Airfield was eventually selected, although it still remained in Iraqi possession.

1-4 Cavalry Squadron, armed with two tank reinforced ground troops, two air cavalry troops, and one Apache attack helicopter company, was dispatched to capture the airfield and prepare it for the ceremony. The airfield, it was discovered, was being protected by an entire Iraqi Republican Guard armored brigade, in reveted positions slightly north of the airfield. Other Iraqi units were also located at other locations in the near-vicinity of the airfield.

Meeting with various senior Iraqi officers, the latter were told in blunt terms to either depart the area or face the prospect of decisive military action, even though this might have meant the US violating the cease-fire on Iraqi soil. Threatened with overwhelming force and retaliation if refusing to comply with US instructions, Iraqi troops eventually retreated from the Safwan Airfield.

The Iraqi delegation arrived by road at a coalition checkpoint several miles from the airfield. From there, it was transported to the ceremony site using HMWVV vehicles and escorted by escorted by Bradley Fighting Vehicles, two M1A1s Abrams, and two Apaches Attack helicopters, at 11:30 a.m. local time.

The meeting lasted two hours between seven Iraqi Generals and General H. Norman Schwarzkopf. It was observed by coalition generals from saudi Arabia, Britain, France, Kuwait, Egypt, Syria, among others. The meeting resulted in Iraqi Generals accepting all of the U.S.-led coalition's conditions for a permanent cease-fire.

The image below is an electo-optical shot of the Safwan Airfield in Iraq. The photo was taken on March 3, 1991, at 1332L/1032Z, by a U2 plane overflying the Surrender Ceremony at Safwan Airfield, using the Senior Year Electro-optical Reconnaissance System (SYERS). SYERS is the electro-optical daylight/fair weather imagery sensor on the U-2.

Visible on the image are M1 Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Apache helicopters lining up the road and surrounding the tent in which the ceremony took place in an obvious and overwhelming display of force.

U2 Imagery of Iraqi Surrender at Safwan Airfield 03/03/1991
Click on the small image to view a larger version

March 3, 1991, U2 imagery of the Safwan Airfield
The formal cease-fire ceremony between Iraqi and Coalition troops took place at this site

The photo above was taken on March 3, 1991, at Safwan, Iraq. Visible in the image are Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the commander in chief of US Central Command, along with Saudi Lt. Gen. Khalid Bin Sultan, commander of the Joint Arab­Islamic Force, sitting next to him. Accross the table, facing them, are officers from the Iraqi delegation.




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