Persian Gulf War, 1991, a war fought between Iraq and a coalition of Middle Eastern and Western powers led by the United States. The aim of the Persian Gulf War coalition was to force Iraq out of Kuwait, a country it had conquered and annexed in 1990. The coalition consisted of 37 nations, but only the United States (with a force of 540,000). Saudi Arabia (118,000), Great Britain (43,000), Egypt (40,000), France (16,000). Syria (15,000), and Kuwait (7,000) provided substantial numbers of personnel.
The war began January 16, 1991, with the coalition launching an air assault on Iraq and its troops and military installations in Kuwait. The assault, which lasted 38 days, destroyed much of Iraq's war-making capabilities; when the ground attack began February 24, coalition forces were virtually unopposed and they defeated Iraqi ground troops within 100 hours. Hostilities ended with a temporary cease-fire on February 27. Iraq agreed to terms of a United Nations permanent cease-fire on April 6, 1991. The Persian Gulf War marks the first time in history that air power played the most important role in deciding the outcome of a war.