The Retreat: Highway of Death
The majority of Iraqi troops fled Kuwait City on February 25-26 on the
Jahra Road, the most direct land route north to Iraq.
They headed in the reverse direction they had taken on
August 2, 1990.
They drove tanks, munitions trucks, buses, ambulances,
and civilian trucks and cars stolen from Kuwait. Most
vehicles were crammed with plunder.
Coalition air strikes bombed both ends of the road to stall the convoy and then destroyed the vehicles trapped in the traffic jam. The result was a 60-mile road littered with about 2,000 wrecked or abandoned vehicles, a million items of loot, and an indeterminate number of soldiers’ bodies. The bulk of the wreckage was concentrated in a 1 km stretch of this road next to Mutla Ridge, the highest elevation in Kuwait. Mutla Ridge is north of Jahra city and 8 km south of the Iraqi border.
Estimates range from a few hundred to a few thousand Iraqi soldiers killed. Most of the soldiers traveling on the road survived – by abandoning their vehicles and their heavier loot and making it across the border on foot.
On Highway 8, a less-direct coastal route from Kuwait City to Iraq, 400-700 vehicles were annihilated.
On roads all over Kuwait, ruins of individual vehicles of all types dotted the landscape.
Despite the bombing, the lion’s share of the Iraqi army, from 70,000 to 80,000 men, crossed into Iraq along with more than 6,000 Kuwaiti hostages.
|Abandoned Vehicles and Loot
Jahra Road (Highway 80) is a 6-lane road connecting Kuwait City to Iraq. The drive north from the city to the border takes 1-2 hours. Since the carnage that occurred on February 26-27, when coalition planes bombed retreating Iraqi troops, the road segment near Mutla Ridge became known as the Highway of Death.