Looking back: Key dates in war

MARCH 17, 2003: US President George Bush gives Saddam Hussein 48-hour deadline to give up power.

MARCH 20/21, 2003: Smoke covers the palace compound during a massive air raid on the Iraqi capital.

APRIL 9, 2003: Cpl Edward Chin from New York covers a statue of Hussein with an American flag.

DECEMBER 13, 2003: Saddam Hussein is dragged out of hiding at a farm in the village of ad-Dawr. The world was later told: ‘We got him’.

APRIL 2004: Photographs of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison appear in the Washington Post.

AUGUST 31, 2005: Iraqi pilgrims walk past shoes lost during a stampede in Baghdad that killed at least 1,000.

DECEMBER 30, 2006: Saddam Hussein is executed, his death filmed covertly on a phone and shown to the world.

2002: Build-up

January 29: US President George W Bush names Iraq, North Korea and Iran the “axis of evil”.

July 16: British Prime Minister Tony Blair says weapons of mass destruction programme represents “a gathering threat”. 2003: Invasion

February 3: Government publishes fresh dossier of evidence of Iraq WMD. It is later revealed to be copied in large part from a Californian postgraduate student’s outdated thesis.

February 14: UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix reports to the Security Council he has found no evidence of WMDs.

March 17: Bush gives Iraqi President Saddam Hussein 48-hour deadline to give up power.

March 20: Invasion launched.

April 9: Baghdad falls to US forces.

May 1: Bush declares “major combat operations in Iraq have ended”.

July 18: Ministry of Defence scientist Dr David Kelly is found dead close to his Oxfordshire home. He said the Government “sexed up” the threat posed by Iraq.

December 13: Saddam captured in underground hideout near Tikrit. 2004: Insurgency

April: Photographs surface of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison.

March 31: Four private security employees killed in Fallujah, and their bodies hung on a bridge.

April 30: Daily Mirror publishes photographs apparently showing the torture of an Iraqi detainee by a British soldier. The photographs are fakes.

June 28: US-led occupation authority turns over formal power to interim government.

September: US military deaths reach 1,000.

October 8: Family of kidnapped civil engineer Ken Bigley confirm he has been murdered.

October 19, 2004: Irish-born director of aid agency Care International, Margaret Hassan, kidnapped and believed to be killed four weeks later.

October 19: Saddam’s trial starts. 2005: Elections

January 30: Iraqis elect 275-seat National Assembly.

April 6: National Assembly elects Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani as president.

August 31: At least 1,000 Shi’ite pilgrims killed in a bridge stampede caused by rumours of a suicide bomber in Baghdad.

October 15: Voters approve constitution. 2006: Violence spreads

February 22: In Samarra, suspected Sunni insurgents detonate two bombs inside the revered Shi’ite Askariya shrine, blowing the top off its landmark golden dome.

June 8: American airstrike outside Baqouba kills al-Qaida-linked insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

November 5: Saddam is sentenced to death.

December 30: Saddam is hanged. 2007: Troop build-up

Jan 10: Bush announces that more than 20,000 additional US troops will be sent to Baghdad.

January 16: United Nations reports 34,452 Iraqi civilians were slain in 2006 — nearly three times more than government reported.

June 24: Saddam’s cousin, known as Chemical Ali, and two other former regime officials are sentenced to hang.

August 14: Four suicide bombers hit a Kurdish Yazidi community in north-west Iraq, killing at least 520 people.

2008: Drawdown?

January 25: Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announces plans for “decisive” offensive against al-Qaida.

February 1: Two women explode boombs in Baghdad markets, killing nearly 100 people.

March 19: Bush defends his decision to go to war, vowing no retreat.

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