President Barack Obama said on Friday the United States will remove the remainder of its troops from Iraq by the end of the year and that “after nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”
Here is a timeline of major events related to the war.
Oct. 11, 2002: The U.S. Congress votes overwhelmingly to authorize President George W. Bush to use force against Iraq, giving him a broad mandate to act against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The Bush administration had argued that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction posed an immediate threat to U.S. and global security. Bush said that “the gathering threat of Iraq must be confronted fully and finally.”
Feb. 6, 2003: U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell sought international backing for military action against Iraq in a presentation before the U.N. Security Council, using satellite photos and communications intercepts to try to show Iraq’s deceptions over weapons of mass destruction.
March 20, 2003: U.S.-led forces invade Iraq from Kuwait to oust Saddam Hussein. The U.S.-led effort crushes the Iraqi military and chases Saddam from power in a span of weeks.
April 9, 2003: U.S. troops seize Baghdad. Saddam goes into hiding. Lawlessness quickly emerges in Iraq’s capital and elsewhere, with U.S. troops failing to bring order.
May 1, 2003: President George W. Bush declares that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended” and that “in the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” As he spoke aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, a banner behind him stated, “Mission Accomplished.”
Summer 2003: An insurgency arises to fight U.S.-led forces. U.S. forces fail to find weapons of mass destruction.
Dec. 13, 2003: U.S. troops capture Saddam, bearded and bedraggled, hiding in a hole near Tikrit.
Jan. 28, 2004: Top U.S. weapons inspector David Kay acknowledges to the U.S. Congress that “we were almost all wrong” about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
Spring 2004: Insurgency intensifies with violence in Falluja and elsewhere in the mainly Sunni Muslim Anbar province as well as violence by followers of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in major Shi’ite cities in the south. The United States also faces international condemnation after photographs emerge showing abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib jail.
Feb. 22, 2006: Bombing of a Shi’ite shrine in Samarra sparks widespread sectarian slaughter, raising fears of civil war between Iraq’s majority Shi’ite and minority Sunni Muslims.
June 7, 2006: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda’s leader in Iraq, is killed by U.S. forces.
Dec. 30, 2006: Saddam Hussein hanged by masked executioners after receiving a death sentence from an Iraqi court for the killings of 148 men and boys in a northern Iraqi town in 1982.
January 2007: Bush formulates and announces a new war strategy including a “surge” of U.S. troops into Iraq to combat the insurgency and pull Iraq back from the brink of civil war.
June 15, 2007: U.S. military completes its troop build-up to around 170,000 soldiers.
Aug. 29, 2007: Moqtada al-Sadr orders his Mehdi Army militia to cease fire.
Nov. 17, 2008: Iraq and the United States sign an accord requiring Washington to withdraw its forces by the end of 2011. The pact gives the government authority over the U.S. mission for the first time, replacing a U.N. Security Council mandate. Parliament approves pact after negotiations 10 days later.
Feb. 27, 2009: New U.S. President Barack Obama announces a plan to end U.S. combat operations in Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010.
June 30, 2009: All U.S. combat units withdraw from Iraq’s urban centers and redeploy to bases outside.
Oct. 4, 2011: Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki wins support from political blocs on keeping U.S. troops as trainers, but they reject any deal that would grant U.S. troops immunity as Washington had requested.
Oct. 21, 2011: Obama says the United States will complete a withdrawal of all its remaining troops in Iraq by the end of 2011 after the two countries failed to reach a deal to leave several thousand U.S. troops behind. The Pentagon said there have been more than 4,400 U.S. military deaths in Iraq since the 2003 invasion.
Compiled by Will Dunham; Editing by Jackie Frank