Here are key dates in the relations between the United States and Iraq, after Washington carried out retaliatory airstrikes against a pro-Iran group sparking new calls for American troops to leave.
On March 20, 2003, a US-led invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq is launched after claims his regime is harbouring weapons of mass destruction.
On April 9, US forces take control of Baghdad, where a large statue of Saddam is symbolically toppled by an American tank, backed by a crowd of Iraqis. US President George W. Bush announces the end of major combat operations on May 1, but says the war against terrorism continues.
At least 25 Iraqi fighters are killed in US airstrikes near the Iraqi-Syrian border, against bases belonging to the Hezbollah brigades, one of the most radical factions of the Hashed
Civil administrator Paul Bremer announces the dissolution of the Iraqi military, the information ministry and other state security organisations and bars officials from Saddam’s Baath party from holding public sector jobs.
On October 2, a US report says no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. On December 13, Saddam is captured near Tikrit, north of Baghdad, after nine months on the run. He is hanged three years later.
The broadcast in April 2004 of images of torture and other abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib US military prison shocks the world. Power is transferred to an interim government in June.
— mostafa.m (@MostafaMe4) December 31, 2019
Insurgency, sectarian conflict
In November 2004, more than 10,000 American and 2,000 Iraqi soldiers attack the flashpoint Sunni city of Fallujah which had become a symbol of resistance to the foreign presence, after the lynching of four Americans in March.
.@SecPompeo on yesterday's airstrikes: This was a defensive action designed to protect American forces and American citizens in Iraq… This was an Iranian-backed rogue militia acting to deny the Iraqi people their basic sovereignty… They took a strike at an American facility. pic.twitter.com/tQxA7qoEJa
— Department of State (@StateDept) December 30, 2019
In February 2006, Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists blow up a Shiite shrine in Samarra sparking a wave of sectarian killings which leaves tens of thousands dead and lasts until 2008.
In January 2007, Bush announces the deployment of 30,000 more troops, bringing total force numbers to 165,000, saying the surge was needed to help Iraq’s embattled government bring the situation under control.
American soldiers depart
In February 2009, new US president Barack Obama, who had deeply opposed the war in Iraq, says the troops will be withdrawn by the end of 2011.
On December 18, 2011, the last American soldiers depart Iraq, leaving the country mired in a severe political crisis.
Between 2003 and 2011 more than 100,000 civilians have been killed, according to the Iraq Body Count database. The United States has lost nearly 4,500 troops.
Fighting the jihadists
In January 2014 jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), later known as the Islamic State (IS) group, capture Fallujah and parts Ramadi city. In June they seize Mosul and by the end of 2014 hold one-third of oil-rich Iraq.
The United States intervenes directly in Iraq for the first time since its forces withdrew in 2011, bombarding jihadist positions which threaten Iraqi Kurdistan and thousands of the Christian and Yazidi minorities.
On March 20, 2003, a US-led invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq is launched after claims his regime is harbouring weapons of mass destruction
With the help of the US-led coalition, Iraqi forces drive IS from all urban centres after a brutal military campaign. In December 2017 Iraq declares the “end of the war” against IS.
Iran pulls weight in Iraq
Iran, which backs the Hashed al-Shaabi Iraqi paramilitary group that played a key role in fighting IS, pulls its weight in Iraq, becoming an influential ally and major trading partner of Baghdad.
“In response to repeated Kata'ib Hizbollah attacks on Iraqi bases that host @CJTFOIR forces, U.S. forces conducted precision defensive strikes against 5 KH facilities in Iraq & Syria [to] degrade KH's ability to conduct future attacks against @coalition forces.” ~@ChiefPentSpox pic.twitter.com/g2hmTD4Eqw
— OIR Spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III (@OIRSpox) December 29, 2019
Mass demonstrations erupt in Iraq on October 1, 2019, against unemployment, corruption and poor public services, but also against interference by foreign powers, notably Iran.
On October 28, two mortar rounds hit a military base north of the Iraqi capital where US troops are deployed. Since then at least 11 attacks have targeted Iraqi military bases where US soldiers or diplomats are deployed.
Read more: The End of US Influence in Iraq
Some 5,200 US soldiers are currently deployed in Iraq as part of the anti-jihadist coalition.
This is American leadership! These our are Represenatives!
"I knew there were no nuclear weapons in Iraq, it just wasn't there."
"I knew it was a misrepresentation to the public."
WE WENT TO WAR and SLAUGHTER INNOCENT CIVILIANS on a LIE! pic.twitter.com/wqp0AIeW5H
— °• Ronda (@40_Ronda) December 31, 2019
On December 29, at least 25 Iraqi fighters are killed in US airstrikes near the Iraqi-Syrian border, against bases belonging to the Hezbollah brigades, one of the most radical factions of the Hashed.
The following day Iraq’s government threatens to “review” its relations with the United States.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk.