KUWAIT CITY, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. military troops Saturday joined Kuwait in marking the 20th anniversary since U.S. forces helped drive Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army out of the country.
The militaries of the United States and a dozen other countries that were part of the 33-nation coalition that ousted Iraq in 1991 took part in a parade through the streets of Kuwait City.
U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was among dozens of presidents, heads of state and other senior officials attending the ceremonies, the Defense Department said in a statement.
"I am very proud to represent the United States here in Kuwait, as Kuwaitis celebrate their independence and our combined victory in Desert Storm," Mullen told reporters.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated the Kuwaiti government and its people on the dual anniversary.
"Today, Kuwait and Iraq stand at the dawn of a new era of peaceful coexistence and friendly relations," he said. "I welcome the recent steps taken by the leadership of the two countries to normalize relations and resolve outstanding issues within the framework of the resolutions of the United Nations.
" This is a formidable challenge, but I have faith in their resolve to move in that direction and achieve full closure. The United Nations will continue to provide all necessary support."
Army Lt. Gen. William G. Webster Jr., commander of U.S. Third Army, said in a statement to the Kuwaiti people that two decades ago Kuwait and the United States "formed an unbreakable alliance, which has grown into a comprehensive partnership that promotes freedom, prosperity and democracy in the Middle East region and the world."
The Kuwaiti government said on its Web site Iraq's invasion was "a critical point in modern Arab history, and said Kuwait "will never forget all those who stood with them and supported them during the period of brutal invasion."
Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait Aug. 2, 1990. On Jan. 17, 1991, the U.S.-led coalition began a devastating barrage that went on for 38 days. When the coalition land forces finally charged, it took just 100 hours for the Iraqi army to begin a full-scale retreat that led to President George H.W. Bush to declare a cease-fire and the liberation of Kuwait.