At the opening of the Gulf War (January 1991), the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) did not classify Khamisiyah as a chemical weapons storage site . However, by late February 1991, the XVIII Corps (ABN) G-3 indicated that Khamisiyah was suspected of being a chemical weapons storage site .
During the Air War of Operation Desert Storm (16 January - 1 March 1991), Coalition Force aircraft attacked Khamisiyah , destroying scores of warehouses and several ammunition bunkers . At the commencement of the Ground War (24 February 1991), it was widely believed that U.S. Forces operating in the KTO after G-Day were likely to capture chemical warfare (CW) and, possibly, biological warfare (BW) munitions of various types . Accordingly, all command levels issued Commander's Guidance for Disposition of Captured Chemical and Biological Munitions and other directives for dealing with captured Iraqi CW or BW munitions (see USCINCCENT on 24 February 1991 , COMUSARCENT on 21 February 1991 , and XVIII Corps (ABN) on 27 February 1991 ). For example, the Commander, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) (ID(MECH) ), also issued a memorandum on 16 February 1991 detailing the guidance for handling these items. The handling/disposition of CW or BW munitions guidance documents emphasized safety and security for both Coalition Forces and the local population:
Destruction of munitions or bulk agent will be accomplished in accordance
with established EOD field disposal policies and procedures to ensure the
complete and safe destruction of the captured items. Prior to destruction,
all necessary measures to preclude collateral damage or down-wind hazard
to friendly forces and civilians will be accomplished .
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