Sunday (19 March) marked 20 years since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The war was sparked after former US President George W. Bush’s administration claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and was a threat to peace, however these claims were later revealed to be inaccurate.
US and allied forces invaded Iraq in 2003, in a bid to topple and end the regime of Saddam Hussein. It wouldn’t be until 2011 that US troops would pull out of the country. But what was the timeline of the war in Iraq and what were some of the key events in the invasion? Here is everything you need to know.
When was the war in Iraq?
The war in Iraq began on 19 March 2003, whilst formal military operations would end in May of the same year, US forces remained in Iraq until 2011. An estimated 461,000 people died from 2003 to 2011.
Here is the timeline of the 2003 invasion of Iraq:
19 March, 2003: President Bush announces the beginning of the invasion, the capital city of Bagdad is attacked with missiles in a bid to target Saddam Hussein.
9 April, 2003: Saddam Hussein’s regime is toppled as Baghdad comes under control of US forces. Statues of the former dictator are pulled down in the streets.
1 May 2003: President Bush declares an end to all major combat operations, declaring: “mission accomplished”.
August 2003: An anti-coalition insurgency begins, with attacks on the Jordanian embassy, a truck bomb which demolishes the United Nations (UN) headquarters killing 22 people including UN envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and a bombing of the Najaf shrine which kills 85 people.
13 December 2003: Saddam Hussein is caught hiding underground near Tikrit. US governor Paul Bremer breaks the news by telling the media: “We got him.”
25 January 2004: Former CIA chief weapons inspector David A. Kay, says American intelligence agencies failed to detect Iraq’s unconventional weapons programs were in a state of disarray under Saddam Hussein’s leadership.
28 June 2004: Sovereignty is transferred from US authorities to Iraq’s new leaders.
19 October 2004: Saddam Hussein goes on trial charged with crimes against humanity for the killing of 148 Shi’ite men and boys in Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt.
30 January 2005: Iraqis turn out to vote in the country’s first democratic elections in 50 years.
19 October 2005: Saddam Hussein goes on trial, telling the court he will not recognise its authority because it is a pawn of the American “aggressors”.
30 December 2006: Sadam Hussein is hanged for his crimes.
30 June 2009: US troops withdraw from Iraqi cities.
November 2009: Prime Minister Gordon Brown announces the Iraq Enquiry which examines the UK government’s involvement in the Iraq war from 2001 to 2009.
31 October 2010: President Barack Obama declares an end to the ongoing war in Iraq after seven years.
15 December, 2011: US forces declare an end to their military operations in Iraq, handing things over to the Iraqi military and police.
Why was Iraq invaded?
Iraq was invaded by the US and allied forces in March 2003 due to claims by the Bush administration that the country had weapons of mass destruction and was a threat to peace. According to the BBC, some of the claims US Secretary of State Colin Powell made to the UN in 2003 included that Iraq had “mobile labs” for making biological weapons, with the UK’s Prime Minister Tony Blair saying it was “beyond doubt” that Iraq was producing weapons of mass destruction. However, after the invasion it was revealed that these claims were not accurate, with no weapons of mass destruction ever being found in the country.
What was the Iraq Enquiry?
The Iraq Enquiry was announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in November 2009, the aim was to examine the UK government’s involvement in the Iraq war from 2001 to 2009. The findings were published in 2016, it concluded that: “The judgments about Iraq’s capabilities... were presented with a certainty that was not justified”, that there was no imminent threat from Sadam Hussein and that intelligence information had been “flawed”.