Highway 80, the "Highway of Death" during the Persian Gulf War
A paved highway running from Kuwait to Basra in Iraq was dubbed the "Highway of Death" during the Persian Gulf War after U.S. aircraft bombed a retreating column of Iraqi tanks and trucks, destroying 2,700 vehicles in all.
How long is the Highway of Death?
The official name of the road is Highway 80. It’s a six-lane road running from Kuwait City to the Iraqi city of Basra via the border town of Safwan. It was used by Iraqi forces during the invasion of Kuwait and was repaired after the Persian Gulf War. Death toll estimates range from 300 up to 10,000 in the attack, which occurred just days before the war ended. Most of the vehicles were abandoned by the time they were struck. While high casualty counts are upwards of 10,000 for the entire battle, low end estimates are only around 200-300. The final tally is probably in the low 1000s. In total between 1800-2700 vehicles were destroyed.
What is the Highway of Death?
The scenes of destruction on the road are some of the most identifiable images of the war. During that time, coalition aircraft bombed a retreating column of Iraqi tanks and armoured vehicles as well as civilian cars, trucks and buses that had been commandeered by military forces. This bombing was done with cluster bombs and incendiary rounds from A-10s. The devastating attack resulted in the destruction and abandonment of more than a thousand vehicles. It's a given that many Iraqi roads are dangerous as of late, littered as they are with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) originally intended for American troops and their allies.