The SECOND ANGEL said Harvest time has come in Israel and all the way to Iran.
Then I saw that the second angel had a sickle in his hand, and he said," Harvest time has come in Israel and the countries all the way to Iran." I saw Turkey and those countries that have refused Me and refused My message of love shall hate each other and kill one another." I saw the angel raise the sickle and come down on all the Middle East countries. Blood and Fire I saw Iran, Persia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, all of Georgia, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, all of Asia Minor full of blood. I saw blood and fire all over these countries. Nuclear weapons used in many of those countries. Smoke rising from everywhere. Sudden destruction, men destroying one another. "Israel, Oh Israel, the great judgment has come. The chosen, the church, the remnant, shall be purified. The Spirit of God shall prepare the children of God." I saw fires rising to heaven. This is the final judgment. My church shall be purified, protected and ready for the final day. Men will die from thirst. Water shall be scarce all over the Middle East. Rivers shall dry up, and men will fight for water in those countries. The angel showed me that the United Nations shall be broken in pieces because of the crisis in the MidEast. There shall be no more United Nations. The angel with the sickle shall reap the harvest.
|Insurgency in Iraq
|Part of the Aftermath of the Iraq War and Spillover of the Syrian Civil War (Arab Winter)|
A map of the situation in Iraq, as of 16 February 2015. For a map of the current military situation in Iraq, see here.
Military Council of Anbar’s Revolutionaries
| Iraqi government
|Commanders and leaders|
| Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,
Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri,
Abu Hashim al Ibrahim,
| Fuad Masum
Babaker Shawkat B. Zebari
Ahmad Abu Risha
|Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant:
||Iraqi Security Forces
600,000 (300,000 Armyand 300,000 Police)
Awakening Councilmilitias – 30,000
US Forces 1,000
Canadian Forces 600
6,760 killed, 5,529 arrested
(Government figures, December 2011 – June 2014)
Iraqi security forces losses
1,668 policemen and 1,791 soldiers killed
3,088 policemen and 3,208 soldiers wounded
(Government figures, December 2011 – June 2014)
12,068 killed and 18,875 wounded
(Government figures, December 2011 – June 2014)
(Government figures, December 2011 – June 2014)
(civilians and executed prisoners only)
(Iraq body count figures, December 2011 – July 2014)
ContentsIn 2014, the Iraqi insurgency escalated with the conquest of Fallujahand Mosul and major areas in northern Iraq by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). This has resulted in the forced resignation of the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, airstrikes by the United States, Iran, and possibly Syria and Russia, and the participation of Iranian troops.
- ISIS militants were in control of more than half of the Iraqi city of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi. Tribesmen held parts of the other half, according to an interior ministry official. A witness in the city west of Baghdad said that militants had set up checkpoints each manned by six to seven people in central and south Fallujah. “InRamadi, it is similar — some areas are controlled by ISIS and other areas are controlled by” tribesmen, the interior ministry official said, referring to the Anbar Province capital, which lies farther to the west. A journalist in Ramadi saw dozens of trucks carrying heavily armed men driving in the city’s east, playing songs praising ISIS. Clashes broke out in the Ramadi area as security forces tore down the country’s main Sunni Arab anti-government protest site, and continued for two more days. On Wednesday, militants in the city sporadically clashed with security forces and torched four police stations, but the clashes had subsided by Thursday, the Agence France-Presse journalist said. The violence also spread to Fallujah, where police abandoned most of their positions on Wednesday and militants burned some police stations.
- Minister of the Interior Nouri al-Maliki said that Iraqi soldiers would depart restive cities in Anbar Province, but reversed that decision the following day. Army forces on Thursday remained outside Ramadi.
- ISIS militants advanced into gained ground and took over several police stations in Fallujah. In early morning, ISIS fighters advanced into areas in central Ramadi and deployed snipers on one street. A police colonel said the army had re-entered into areas of Fallujah, between Ramadi and Baghdad, but that around a quarter of it remained under ISIS control. Soldiers and armed tribesmen held the rest and had also surrounded the city, he said.
- However, another senior officer, a police lieutenant colonel, said that while soldiers had deployed around the city they had yet to enter Fallujah.
- Iraqi government has lost control of the city of Fallujah, which is now held by ISIS militants, a senior security official in Anbar provincesaid. Fallujah is under the control of ISIS. Earlier on Friday, more than 100 people were killed as Iraqi police and tribesmen battled Al-Qaeda linked militants who took over parts of two cities onAnbar province, declaring one an ISIS.
- On the same day, the Iraq army shelled the western city of Fallujah with mortar bombs overnight to try to wrest back control from Sunni Muslim militants and tribesmen, killing at least eight people. Fallujah has been held since by militants linked to al Qaeda and by tribal fighters united in their opposition to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in a serious challenge to the authority of his Shi’ite-led government inAnbar province. Medical sources in Fallujah said another 30 people were wounded in shelling by the army.
- At least 20 people killing in new wave of bombings which hit on the Iraq’s capital, Baghdad.
- Iraqi missile strikes on Ramadi killed 25 militants. Also in same day, unidentified gunmen have killed seven police officers, including a captain, in an attack at a security checkpoint north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. The deadly incident took place on a highway north of the city of Samarra.
- No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but police officials say the main suspects are militants linked to al-Qaeda.
- Gunmen attacked a military site north of the Iraqi capital, killing 12 soldiers and wounding four. The militants stormed a building at the site in the Al-Adhim area, then bombed it. Militants opposed to theIraqi government frequently target members of the security forces with bombings and shootings.
- A suicide bomber killed 23 Iraqi army recruits and wounded 36 in Baghdad on Thursday, officials said, in an attack on men volunteering to join the government’s struggle to crush al Qaedalinked militants in Anbar province. Brigadier General Saad Maan, spokesman for the Baghdad Security Operations Centre, said the bomber blew himself up among the recruits at the small Muthenna Airbase, used by the army in the capital. Maan put the death toll at 22 but health ministry officials said morgue records showed 23 had died.
- No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred a day after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he would eradicate the “evil” of al Qaeda and its allies.
- A car bomb exploded outside a bus station in central Baghdad, killing at least nine people and wounding 16. No group immediately has claimed responsibility for attack on bus terminal Alawi al-Hilla. Also on Sunday, bombing targeting a general in northern Iraq outside his home in eastern Sulaimaniyah, damaged his vehicle but left him unharmed.
- Four car bombs killed at least 25 people in Shi’ite Muslim districts of Baghdad, in violence that coincided with a visit to the Iraqi capital byU.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Although no group claimed responsibility, the bombings appeared to be part of a relentless campaign by al Qaeda linked Sunni Muslim militants to undermine Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-led government.
- Bombings and shootings killed at least eight people in and around the Iraqi capital, including a judge. Gunmen in a speeding car opened fire at the judge, killing him and his driver. Later in the afternoon a sticky bomb attached to a mini-bus exploded in the Shiite neighborhood of Sadr city, killing three passengers and wounding eight.
- Bomb attacks and shootings killed at least 75 people in Iraq, police and hospital sources said, making it one of the bloodiest days in months, but troops reclaimed a town west of Baghdad.
- The bodies of 14 Sunni Muslim tribesmen were found in date palm groves north of Baghdad, a day after they were kidnapped by uniformed men in security forces vehicles. The victims, all from the Albu Rawdas tribe, had been abducted while they were attending a funeral in the town of Tarmiya, 25 km (16 miles) north of the Iraqi capital.
- Five bombings in Baghdad, including an attack on a glitzy new shopping mall in the west of the capital, killed 14 people and wounded several others. The blasts struck in the neighbourhoods of Mansur, Nahda, Taubchi, Sarafiyah and Amriyah—all across the capital.
- Seven bomb explosions killed 26 people and wounded 67 in the Iraqi capital, as security forces battled Sunni Muslim militants around the western cities of Fallujah and Ramadi.
- No group claimed responsibility for the blasts. On same day, a senior Iraqi official claims ISIS fighters hunkered down in a city they seized late last month west of Baghdad have enough heavy weapons to allegedly take the country’s capital.
- Two soldiers and three would-be suicide bombers were killed and 18 other soldiers wounded in separate violent attacks in eastern and central Iraq. On the same day, security forces thwarted coordinated predawn attacks by ISIS militants in eastern Diyala province when the troops came under arms fire near the provincial capital city ofBaquba, some 65 km northeast of Baghdad, prompting a fierce clash with the attackers, killing three of them and seized three of their explosive vests.
- Iraqi armed forces in Anbar Province Iraqi armed forces killed scores of ISIS militants as the army continues its fight against terrorists. According to Iraqi Defense Ministry, the air forces carried airstrikes to bases Takfiri militants in western Anbar province and killing scores militants.
- January 25 – Three mortar shells landed in the village mainly populated by Shia Muslims near the Iraqi city of Baquba has killed six people. On the same day, double bombing has killed a soldier and his entire family in their home in townMuqdadiyah in 90 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad.
- At least four people were killed and 14 wounded in the afternoon when almost simultaneously three car bombs detonated in northern Iraq, in city Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad. On the same day, head of a city council and two of councillors were killed by gunmen who attacked their convoy near the town of Wajihiyah in eastern Diyala province also in al-Rashdiyah northern suburb Baghdad, gunmen killed an ex-officer of Saddam Hussein’s army and his wife.
- Seven members of Iraq’s security forces killed on during an armed attack north of Baghdad, the latest in a surge in violence fuelling fears the country is slipping back into all-out conflict.
- At least 13 people were killed and 39 others wounded in violent attacks in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. According toUNAMI in Iraq in 2013 were killed a total of 8,868 Iraqis, including 7,818 civilians and civilian police personnel.
- Security officials said militants stormed an office of Ministry of Human Rights (Iraq) in northeast Baghdad and took a number of civil servants hostage. The attack was mounted by eight armed men. Later, security forces kill to all attackers and free hostages.
- Last month in terrorist attacks and other violence across Iraq, 1,013 people, including 795 civilians, 122 soldiers and 96 policemen, were killed during some form of violence.
- At least 20 people were killed and 68 others wounded in violent attacks in and around the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The deadliest attack occurred in the area of Abu Dusher in southern Baghdad when two car bombs exploded, leaving four people killed and 16 others wounded.
- At least 16 people were killed in a string of bombings in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. On the same day, Iraqi officials said up to 32 people were also killed during two more attacks in crowded places in Baghdad.
- Iraqi officials said at least nine people were killed and 22 were wounded in a string of car bombings that hit commercial areas in the Baghdad’s eastern neighborhood of Jamila and northern neighborhood of Kazimiyah.
- Attacks in Baghdad and north of the capital killed nine people, including a supporter of powerful Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who was standing in parliamentary elections to be held in April. On the same day, another five were also killed and dozens more injured in Tuz Khormato, east of Tikrit in Saladin Province.
- At least 19 people were killed and 19 wounded in violent attacks across Iraq. Attacks occurred at a marketplace in the Shiite district of Sadr City in the eastern part of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, as well as in the town of Mahmoudiyah, some 30 km south of Baghdad. Violence also claimed lives in the southwestern part of city of Baquba, capital of theDiyala province.
- At least 22 insurgents, including a suicide bomber were killed and 15 injured when a car bomb mistakenly went off in a militant compound north of Baghdad.
- 15 soldiers were killed in a pre-dawn assault on an army camp guarding an oil pipeline near Hamam al-Alil in the north of Nineveh Province, one of the most violent parts of Iraq.
- At least 17 civilians, including soldiers, were killed across Iraq by car bombs and roadside explosives.
- No terrorist groups claimed responsibility for these attacks.
- Talib Hameed Mustafa, mayor of the city Sulaiman Bek, reported that gunmen seized the town, some 90 km east ofTikrit after clashes with security forces.
- Talib Mohammed mayor of the city Sulaiman Bek said, that Iraqi troops backed by helicopter gunships regained ground in the northern town of Sulaiman Bek, a day after parts of it were overrun by ISIS militants. At least 12 ISIS militants were killed by the army.
- 17 soldiers and policemen were killed and 12 others wounded in separate attacks targeting the security forces across Iraq.
- At least 13 people were killed and 65 injured in consequence of the explosion of seven car bombs in central Iraq.
- 16 people were killed and 32 others wounded in separate violent attacks, mainly targeting Iraqi security forces across the country.
- At least 20 people were killed and 35 wounded in Iraq when three mortar rounds struck a crowded market in a mainly Shi’ite Muslim town of Mussayab, 60 km south of the Baghdad.
- 21 people were killed and 26 others wounded in violent attacks across Iraq.
- February 27 – At least 42 people were killed as a motorcycle rigged with explosives detonated in Baghdad’s Sadr Cityand militants targeted mostly Shi’ite neighbourhoods around the country.
- March 1 – The UNAMI said a total of 703 people were killed in Iraq in February. The figure excluded deaths from the ongoing fighting between the Iraqi forces and ISIS militants in the western Anbar Province. Some 564 civilians and 139 members of security forces were killed in the violence in the country, while 1,381 people, including 1,179 civilians, were injured.
- March 5 – Up to 26 people were killed and 87 others wounded in violent attacks across Iraq, including a series of car bombs in Baghdad.
- March 6 – At least 37 civilians killing in the series of bombings on commercial areas in central Iraq.
- March 9 – At least 50 people killed and more than 150 wounded of the suicide bombing at a crowded checkpoint south of the city Baghdad.
- March 18 – At least 18 people were killed and 24 others wounded in separate attacks across Iraq.
- March 19 – At least 37 people killed and 40 people injured due to outbreaks violence across Iraq, including shelling and clashes in a militant-held city on Baghdad’s doorstep.
- March 21 – The militants seized a village Sarha in north of Iraq and also 27 people killing including at least 10 policemen and more than 50 injured in consequence of attacks nationwide.
- March 25 – More than 80 people were killed in a series of attacks in Iraq, with the heaviest death toll in the Baghdad area. At least 41 of the victims were Iraqi Army soldiers, who suffered a major ambush near Taji that killed 22 and injured 15 others. An earlier suicide bombing near the city killed another 5 soldiers and wounded 14 others, while an attack on a base in Tarmiyah killed 8 soldiers and injured 14 others.
- March 27 – Iraqi authorities say that 19 people killed and 52 wounding in bombings targeting a commercial street and a market have in the same neighborhood northern Baghdad.
- 2 April, at least 25 people were killed and 23 wounded in separate attacks mainly targeting soldiers the Iraqi security forces across Iraq.
- 3 April, the Interior Ministry’s spokesman Saad Maan Ibrahim said that more than 40 ISIS militants and one officer of Iraqi security forces died in clashes near Baghdad. Later more five people dead and seventeen injured elsewhere in the country in consequence the attacks.
- 5 April, at least 18 soldiers killed in an explosion and ensuing gunfight at booby-trapped house near the city of Fallujah.
- 8 April, at least 15 people dead in attacks in Iraq while security forces said they killed 25 militants near Baghdad amid worries insurgents are encroaching on the capital weeks ahead of elections.
- 9 April, at least 24 people killing and 48 wounded in a series of car bombs has hit several mostly Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad.
- 10 April, at least 25 people were killed and 31 others wounded in separate violent attacks across Iraq.
- 12 April, at least 21 people were killed and 45 others wounded in separate violent attacks across Iraq.
- 13 April, at least 36 people were killed and 28 others wounded in separate violent attacks across Iraq.
- 16 April, at least 36 people were killed and 53 others wounded in separate attacks across Iraq.
- 17 April, at least 30 people, including Iraqi soldiers, have been killed and dozens more injured in consequence separate terrorist attacks across Iraq.
- 19 April, at least 69 people were killed about half of them were militants and 73 civilians and security personnel were wounded in during ongoing violence across Iraq.
- 20 April, at least 79 people were killed and 112 more were wounded in during ongoing violence across Iraq.
- 21 April, 33 people were killed and some 50 others wounded in separate attacks, including two suicide bombings across Iraq.
- 23 April, Militants wearing military uniforms carried out an overnight attack against a balloting centre in a remote area of the country’s north and killed 10 guards.
- 26 April, at least 31 people were killed and 56 others wounded in two car bomb attacks at a parliamentary election rally in Baghdad.
- 28 April, Nearly 60 people including 27 members of the Iraqi security forces have been killed and 50 others injured in a series of bomb attacks across Iraq while as the country prepares for parliamentary elections.
- 29 April, a total of 35 people were killed and 69 others wounded in separate attacks across Iraq.
- 4 May, Officials said that more than 30 people killed within 24 hours in consequence violence in Iraq, including shelling in a militant-held city and an attack targeting Shiite pilgrims.
- 6 May, a total of 24 people were killed and 29 wounded in separate violent incidents across of Iraq.
- 11 May, a total of 41 people were killed including 20 soldiers the Iraqi army and 30 people injured across Iraq in separate insurgent attacks that mainly targeted security forces.
- 16 May, at least 29 people killed and dozens wounded during bombings and shootings around Iraq’s capital, including an attack involving militants using a fake checkpoint to kill army officers.
- 28 May, over 60 people have been killed and scores of others injured the across Iraq.
- 29 May, At least 74 people have been killed and 52 injuring in a series of attacks across Iraq, including the capital,Baghdad.
- In early June, following its large-scale offensives in Iraq, ISIS was reported to have seized control of most of Mosul, the second most populous city in Iraq, a large part of the surrounding Nineveh province, and the city of Fallujah. ISIS also took control of Tikrit, the administrative center of the Salah ad Din Governorate, with the ultimate goal of capturingBaghdad, the Iraqi capital. ISIS was believed to have only 2,000–3,000 fighters up until the Mosul campaign, but during that campaign, it became evident that this number was a gross underestimate.
- Also in June, there were reports that a number of Sunni groups in Iraq that were opposed to the predominantly Shia government had joined ISIS, thus bolstering the group’s numbers.[not in citation given] However, theKurds—who are mostly Sunnis—in the northeast of Iraq, were unwilling to be drawn into the conflict, and there were clashes in the area between ISIS and the Kurdish Peshmerga.
- 5 June: ISIS militants stormed the city of Samarra, Iraq, before being ousted from the city by airstrikes mounted by the Iraqi military.
- 6 June: ISIS militants carried out multiple attacks in the city of Mosul, Iraq.
- 7 June: ISIS militants took over the University of Anbar in Ramadi, Iraq and held 1,300 students hostage, before being ousted by the Iraqi military.
- 9 June: Mosul fell to ISIS control. The militants seized control of government offices, the airport, and police stations.Militants also looted the Central Bank in Mosul, reportedly absconding with US$429 million. More than 500,000 people fled Mosul to escape ISIS. Mosul is a strategic city as it is at a crossroad between Syria and Iraq, and poses the threat of ISIS seizing control of oil production.
- 11 June: ISIS seized the Turkish consulate in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and kidnapped the head of the diplomatic mission and several staff members. ISIS seized the Iraqi city of Tikrit.
- 12 June: Human Rights Watch, an international human rights advocacy organization, issued a statement about the growing threat to civilians in Iraq.
- 13 June: Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed alarm at reports that ISIS fighters “have been actively seeking out—and in some cases killing—soldiers, police and others, including civilians, whom they perceive as being associated with the government.”
- 15 June: ISIS militants captured the Iraqi city of Tal Afar, in the province of Nineveh. ISIS claimed that 1,700 Iraqi soldiers who had surrendered in the fighting had been killed, and released many images of mass executions via its Twitter feed and various websites.
- 22 June: ISIS militants captured two key crossings in Anbar, a day after seizing the border crossing at Al-Qaim, a town in a province which borders Syria. According to analysts, capturing these crossings could aid ISIS in transporting weapons and equipment to different battlefields.
- 24 June: The Syrian Air Force bombed ISIS positions in Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stated: “There was no coordination involved, but we welcome this action. We welcome any Syrian strike against Isis because this group targets both Iraq and Syria.”
- 25 June: The al-Nusra Front‘s branch in the Syrian town of al-Bukamal pledged loyalty to ISIS, thus bringing months of fighting between the two groups to a close.
- 25 June: In an interview with the BBC Arabic service, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that Iraq had purchased usedSukhoi fighter jets from Russia and Belarus to battle ISIS militants, after delays in the delivery of F-16 fighterspurchased from the US. “[If] we had air cover, we would have averted what happened”, he said.
- 26 June: Iraq launched its first counterattack against ISIS’s advance with an airborne assault designed to seize back control of Tikrit University.
- 28 June: The Jerusalem Post reported that the Obama administration had requested US$500 million from the US Congress to use in the training and arming of “moderate” Syrian rebels fighting against the Syrian government, in order to counter the growing threat posed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
- 29 June: ISIS announced the establishment of a new caliphate. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was appointed its caliph, and the group formally changed its name to the Islamic State.
- 2 July: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the new Islamic State, said that Muslims should unite to capture Rome in order to “own the world.” He called on Muslims the world over to unite behind him as their leader.
- 3 July: ISIS captured Syria’s largest oilfield from rival Islamist fighters, al-Nusra Front, who put up no resistance to the attack. Taking control of the al-Omar oilfield gave ISIS access to potentially useful crude oil reserves.
- 17 July: Syria’s Shaer gas field in the Homs Governorate was seized by the Islamic State. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 90 National Defence Force guards defending the field were killed, as were 21 ISIS fighters. The SOHR later put the death toll from the fighting and executions at 270 soldiers, militiamen and staff, and at least 40 ISIS fighters.
- 19 July: ISIS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing, which killed 33 people and left more than 50 wounded. The explosion occurred in Baghdad’s Kadhimiya district, which is the site of a major Shia shrine.
- 24 July: ISIS blew up the Mosque and tomb of the Prophet Yunus (Jonah) in Mosul, with no reported casualties.Residents in the area said that ISIS had erased a piece of Iraqi heritage. Johah’s tomb was also an important holy site in the Jewish heritage as well.
- 26 July: ISIS blew up the Nabi Shiyt (Prophet Seth) shrine in Mosul. Sami al-Massoudi, deputy head of the Shiaendowment agency which oversees holy sites, confirmed the destruction and added that ISIS had taken artifacts from the shrine to an unknown location.
- 28 July: To mark the Muslim holy festival of Eid al-Fitr, which ends the period of Ramadan, ISIS released and circulated a 30-minute video showing graphic scenes of mass executions.
- The UN reported that of the 1,737 fatal casualties of the Iraq conflict during July, 1,186 were civilians.
- 1 August: The Indonesian BNPT (id) declared ISIS a terrorist organization.
- 2 August: The Iraqi Army confirmed that 37 loyalist fighters had died during combat with Islamic State militants south of Baghdad, and in Mosul. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) claimed that “hundreds” of IS militiamen had died in the action.
- 2 August: ISIS and its al-Nusra Front allies invade Lebanon in and around the town of Arsal, sparking a five day battle between them and the Lebanese army, who push ISIS back across the border into Syria. Over a hundred fighters were killed, and scores of civilians were killed or wounded.
- 3 August: IS fighters occupied the city of Zumar and an oilfield in the north of Iraq, after a battle against Kurdish forces.
- 5 August: Al Jazeera reported that an IS offensive in the Sinjar area of northern Iraq had forced 30,000–50,000 Yazidis to flee into the mountains, fearing they would be killed by the IS. They had been threatened with death if they refused conversion to Islam. A UN representative said that “a humanitarian tragedy is unfolding in Sinjar.”
- 6 August: The Islamic State kidnapped 400 Yazidi women in Sinjar to sell them as sex slaves.
- 7 August: IS fighters took control of the town of Qaraqosh in the province ofNineveh in northern Iraq, which forced its large Christian population to flee. President Obama authorized targeted airstrikes in Iraq against ISIS, along with airdrops of aid. The UK offered the US assistance with surveillance and refuelling, and planned humanitarian airdrops to Iraqi refugees.
- 8 August: The US asserted that the systematic destruction of the Yazidi people by the Islamic State was genocide.The US military launched indefinite airstrikes targeting Islamic State fighters, equipment and installations, with humanitarian aid support from the UK and France, in order to protect civilians in northern Iraq. The Islamic State had advanced to within 30 km of Erbil in northern Iraq. The UK is also considering joining the US in airstrikes.
- 10 August: France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that Iraq’s Kurds must be equipped to fight against ISIS and indicated that France would consider providing arms aid “in liaison with the Europeans”. Islamic State militants buried an unknown number of Yazidi women and children alive, in an attack that killed 500 people, in what has been described as ongoing genocide in northern Iraq.
- 11 August: The Arab League accused the Islamic State of committing crimes against humanity. The UK decided not to join the US in airstrikes and instead stepped up its humanitarian aid to refugees.
- 12 August: The parents of kidnapped American journalist James Foley received an email from his captors. The US announced that it would not extend its airstrikes against the Islamic State to areas outside northern Iraq, emphasizing that the objective of the airstrikes was to protect US diplomats in Erbil. The US and the UK airdropped 60,000 litres of water and 75,000 meals for stranded refugees. The Vatican called on religious leaders of all denominations, particularly Muslim leaders, to unite and condemn the IS for what it described as “heinous crimes” and the use of religion to justify them.
- 13 August: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Islamic State jihadists had seized control of six villages near the Turkish border in the northern province of Aleppo in Syria.
- 15 August: The United Nations Security Council issued a resolution which “deplores and condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist acts of ISIL (Islamic State) and its violent extremist ideology, and its continued gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.”
- 16 August: The Islamic State massacred 80 Yazidis. The EU agreed to supply Kurdish forces with arms, and US military forces continued to attack Islamic State fighters in the area around Iraq’s crucial Mosul Dam.
- 17 August: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the Islamic State had killed 700 members of the Syrian al-Shaitat tribe, mostly civilians, after two weeks of clashes over the control of two oilfields in the region. Peshmerga troops, aided by the US air campaign, began an offensive to take back the strategic Mosul Dam from the Islamic State, amid fears that the destruction of the dam might unleash a 65-foot wave of water that could engulf the northern city of Mosul, and even flood Baghdad.
- 18 August: Pope Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, said that the international community would be justified in stopping Islamist militants in Iraq. He also said that it should not be up to a single nation to decide how to intervene in the conflict. The Dutch send fighter jets to strike ISIS Iraq when needed.
- 19 August: According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the size of the Islamic State’s forces had grown to more than 50,000 fighters in Syria. American journalist James Foley was beheaded by the Islamic State on video tape.
- 20 August: US President Obama denounced the “brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group ISIL.”
- 21 August: The US military admitted that a covert rescue attempt involving dozens of US Special Operations forces had been made to rescue James Foley and other Americans held captive in Syria by Islamic State militants. The air and ground assault, involving the first known US military ground action inside Syria, had the authorization of PresidentBarack Obama. The ensuing gunfight resulted in one US soldier being injured. The rescue was unsuccessful, as Foley and the other captives were not in the location targeted. This was the first known engagement by US ground forces with suspected Islamic State militants. US Defense Secretary warned that the Islamic State are tremendously well-funded, “they have no standard of decency, of responsible human behavior,” and are an imminent threat to the US.
- 22 August: The US is considering airstrikes on ISIS in Syria, which would draw US military forces directly into the Syrian Civil War, as President Obama develops a long-term strategy to defeat the Islamic State.
- 23 August: Al Jazeera America reports that Iranian troops had crossed into Iraq and were fighting alongside the Peshmerga and Iraqi troops.
- 28 August: American drones select new traget data on August 28 
- 31 August: the United States, France, United Kingdom and Australia began humanitarian aid drops, like food, water and medical supplies, to help prevent a potential massacre against the Shi’a Turkmen minority in Amirli. The US also carried out air strikes on ISIS positions around and near Amirli. Iraqi officials stated that they had reached Amirli and broken the siege and that the military was currently fighting to clear the areas around the town. This is known to be the first major turning point against the Islamic State in Iraq.
- 2 September: The United States sends an additional 250 US troops to protect American personnel.
- 3 September: A video is released by ISIL(S) on social media of a second American reporter being beheaded by a masked man, believed to be “Jihad John”, the same man who beheaded American journalist James Foley; David Hawthorne Cains was also presented in the video and the masked man stated that if America and its allies do not stop and withdraw from Iraq, then the English hostage will be the 3rd person to be beheaded. Australia delivers a load of armaments to Kurdish forces in Northern Iraq, to help fight against ISIL(S).
- 7 September: The United States launches new airstrikes on ISIL(S) in western Iraq, in an effort to protect the Haditha Dam.
- 10 September: U.S. President Barack Obama authorises $25 million for “immediate military assistance” to the Iraqigovernment and Kurdistan Regional Government. He also outlines plans to expand US operations against ISIL(S) toSyria in a televised address to the nation. RSA Muslims condemn ISIS.
- 14 September: 400 Australian Air Force personnel, up to eight Super Hornet aircraft, an early warning and control aircraft and an aerial refuelling aircraft were also pleged on the 14th.
- 19 September: First French airstrikes occur. Belgian participation for one month was authorized by the country’s Chamber of Representatives in the afternoon of September 19, after more than 3½ hours of debate. The Belgian military contingent was said to number 120, including eight pilots and an unknown amount of F-16 multirole fighters, to be based in Jordan, Defense Minister Pieter De Crem said.
- 22 September: Aussie police call for calm after terrorist inspired ‘Isis’ graffiti attack in the city of Cairns on September 22.
- 23 September: A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in northern Syria, in the morning of September 23, 2014. Reuters Cruise missiles hit Al Raqqar in Sirya. A refinery, the GPO, power station and army recruit center were hit on September 23.
- 24 September: As a result of a United Nations General Assembly meeting, various nations have decided that they will provide military support against ISIS.
- 25 September: U.S. and Arab airstrikes target ISIS-held oil facilities in Syria and Iraq.
- 26 September: Large numbers staged protests in Europe and the United States in solidarity with the mostly Kurdish people of Kobane in Syria, coinciding with the first US airstrikes on the city’s outskirts on Saturday against Islamic State (IS or ISIS) forces. Sit-ins and protests took place on Friday and Saturday in cities in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Britain, Austria and the United States. Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt announced that Denmark would be deploying 250 pilots and staff, three reserve jets on the 26th. 4 combat jets were added later that day. Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt announced that Denmark would be deploying 250 pilots and staff, three reserve F-16 fighter jets and four F-16 fighter jet combatant planes on the 27th 
- 28 September: 6 Aussie F/A-18F Super Hornets, a E-7A Wedgetail and a KC-30A were sent in. An Airbus Voyagerin flight refueling aircraft was also in used a second sortie over Northern Iraq on 28 September.
- 29 September: A mortar shells hit near the Turkey/Sirya border crossing of Mursitpinar, close to a group of journalists and Turkish security forces, and another shell landed near a refugee camp, about one kilometer inside Turkey.Canada’s parliament debates doing airstrikes in Iraq on September 29.
- 30 September: A British Panavia Tornado jet dropped a Paveway IV bomb on “a heavy weapon position” operated by ISIS in northwest Iraq, thus marking the first engagement of the British military against IS targets. 2 RAF Tornados used a Paveway IV bomb to blow up an ISIS truck in northern Iraq. Australia offers 200 special forces to the Kurds on September 30  600 Aussie troops land in the UAE on Sept 14th 
- 1 October: America sends Apache helicopters and crews to Iraq.
- 2 October: Some British jihadists threatened an ‘imminent’ terror attack to avenge UK airstrikes on ISIS in Iraq on October 2. It was revealed on October 2 that three deceased ISIS members from Britain were originally from Tower Hamlets‘ Bangladeshi district. A fourth British casualty, Ibrahim Kamara, was a 19-year-old student from Brighton.Canada joined the anti-ISIS air strikes on October 2. The six-month mission was planned to include CF-18 fighter jets and refueling and surveillance aircraft, but not ground troops.
- 3 October: The “Iraq III No!” anti-war activists rallied in Central London to protest against British airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Iraq on October 3. Australia authorized its special forces troops to go to Iraq as part of the anti-ISIS coalition that day, as well as authorizing airstrikes. The White House praised Australia over its decision to join airstrikes in Iraq and to send special forces military trainers to the country on October 3. PM Mr Abbott gives RAAF planned airstrikes the go-ahead. Australia’s cabinet approved Australia’s Super Hornets to start bombing raids against Islamic State extremists in the near future, supported by 400 RAAF personnel. The RAAF will deploy 6 Super Hornets, a Wedgetail surveillance aircraft and a in-flight refueller. About 200 special forces members will train and advise Iraqi forces, but are awaiting final legal approval before deploying. Any airraids are planned to support Iraq’s government against ISIS. The PM of New Zealand and the PM of PNG offered political support to Australia.
- 4 October: Manchester‘s leading Muslims condemn the murder of British aid convoy volunteer Alan Henning. Naved Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of Britain, said there were “very clear distinctions” between the jihadists and ordinary Muslims on October 4. Islamic State also threatened to kill the American aid worker Peter Kassig that day, after releasing a video of murder of British hostage Alan Henning. The ISIS fighter says in the video: “Obama, you have started your aerial bombardment in [Al-] Sham. So it’s only right we continue to strike the necks of your .”
- 14 October: ISIS forces capture the city of Hīt, after the 300-strong Iraqi Army garrison has abandoned and set afire its local base and supplies and about 180,000 civilians (including refugees of the preious Anbar offensive) have fled the area.
- 24 October: Operation Ashura is launched by Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia militas, scoring a major victory and retaking the strategic town of Jurf al-Sakhar near Baghdad, and secured the way for millions of Shia pilgrims who are going to Karbala and Najaf in the Day of Ashura. Kurdish forces, meanwhile, recapture Zumar.
- On 7 November, Iraqi forces retake control of most part of the strategic city Baiji from the Islamic State. So now government troops hold more than 70 percent of the city—including neighborhoods in the south, east and north—and are battling to capture the rest.
- Fighting erupts in Ramadi, capital of the Anbar Province, on November 21.
- Iraqi and Kurdish forces make gains in the Diyala province. Kurdish forces retake Jalawla, and Government forces retake Saadiya.
- Kurdish Peshmerga forces retake 5 key villages in an area known as Gweir and Makhmour.
- On 17 December, Peshmerga forces launched the Sinjar offensive from Zumar and managed to break the siege of Mount Sinjar, recapture more than 700 square kilometers of territory, close in on Tal Afar, clear areas north of Mount Sinjar, and push into the city of Sinjar. As of 27 December 2014, the offensive is ongoing.
The Iraq War[nb 1] was a protracted armed conflict that began with the 2003 invasion of Iraq led by the United States. The invasion toppled the government of Saddam Hussein. The conflict, however, continued for much of the next decade as an insurgency emerged to oppose the occupying forces and the post-invasion Iraqi government. The United States officially withdrew from the country in 2011, but the insurgency and various dimensions of the civil armed conflict continue.
The invasion began on 20 March 2003. The U.S., joined by the United Kingdom and several coalition allies, launched a “shock and awe” surprise attack without declaring war. Iraqi forces were quickly overwhelmed as U.S. forces swept through the country. The invasion led to the collapse of the Ba’athist government; Saddam was captured in December 2003 and executed by a military court three years later. However, the power vacuum following Saddam’s demise and the mismanagement of the occupation led to widespread sectarian violence between Shias and Sunnis as well as a lengthy insurgency against U.S. and coalition forces. The United States responded with a troop surge in 2007; the heavy American security presence and deals made between the occupying forces and Sunni militias reduced the level of violence. The U.S. began withdrawing its troops in the winter of 2007–2008. The winding down of U.S. involvement in Iraq accelerated under President Barack Obama. The U.S. formally withdrew all combat troops from Iraq by December 2011.
The Bush Administration based its rationale for war principally on the assertion that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and that Saddam’s government posed an immediate threat to the United States and its coalition allies. Select U.S. officials accused Saddam of harboring and supporting al-Qaeda, while others cited the desire to end a repressive dictatorship and bring democracy to the people of Iraq. After the invasion, no substantial evidence was found to verify the initial claims about WMDs. The rationale and misrepresentation of pre-war intelligence faced heavy criticism within the U.S. and internationally.
As a result of the war, Iraq held multi-party elections in 2005. Nouri al-Maliki became Prime Minister in 2006 and remained in office until 2014. The Maliki government enacted policies that were widely seen as having the effect of alienating the country’s Sunni minority, worsening sectarian tensions. In the summer of 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched a military offensive in Northern Iraq and declared a worldwide Islamic caliphate, eliciting another military response from the United States and its allies. The Iraq War caused hundreds of thousands of civilian and military casualties (see estimates below). The majority of casualties occurred as a result of the insurgency and civil conflicts between 2004 and 2007.
Iraq disarmament and pre-war intelligence
Prior to September 2002, the CIA was the Bush administration’s main provider of intelligence on Iraq. In September, a Pentagonunit called Office of Special Plans (OSP), was created by Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, and headed by Feith, as charged by then-United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to supply senior George W. Bush administration officials with raw intelligence pertaining to Iraq. Seymour Hersh writes that, according to a Pentagon adviser, “[OSP] was created in order to find evidence of what Wolfowitz and his boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, wanted to be true—that Saddam Hussein had close ties to Al Qaeda, and that Iraq had an enormous arsenal ofchemical, biological, and possibly even nuclear weapons (WMD) that threatened the region and, potentially, the United States. […] ‘The agency [CIA] was out to disprove linkage between Iraq andterrorism,’ the Pentagon adviser told me.”
U.N. weapons inspections resume
The issue of Iraq’s disarmament reached a turning point in 2002–2003, when President Bush demanded a complete end to allegedIraqi production of weapons of mass destruction and full compliance with U.N. Security Council Resolutions requiring U.N. weapons inspectors unfettered access to suspected weapons production facilities. The U.N. had prohibited Iraq from developing or possessing such weapons after the Persian Gulf War and required Iraq to permit inspections confirming compliance. During inspections in 1999, U.S. intelligence agents supplied the United States with a direct feed of conversations between Iraqi security agencies as well as other information. This was confirmed by theNew York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
During 2002, U.S. President George Bush repeatedly warned of military action against Iraq unless inspections were allowed to progress unfettered. In accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 Iraq agreed to new inspections in late 2002. With the cooperation of the Iraqis, a third weapons inspection team in 2003 led by David Kelly viewed and photographed two alleged mobile weapons laboratories, which were actually facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons.
Shortly before the invasion, Hans Blix, the lead weapons inspector, advised the U.N. Security Council that Iraq was cooperating with inspections and the confirmation of disarmament through inspections could be achieved quickly if Iraq remained cooperative.
Weapons of mass destruction
In 1990, before the Persian Gulf War, Iraq had stockpiled 550 short tons (500 t) of yellowcake uranium at the Tuwaitha nuclear complex about 20 kilometres (12 mi) south of Baghdad. In late February 2002, the CIA sent former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson to investigate reports (later found to be forgeries) that Iraq was attempting to purchase additional yellowcake fromNiger. Wilson returned and informed the CIA that reports of yellowcake sales to Iraq were “unequivocally wrong.” The Bush administration, however, continued to allege Iraq’s attempts to obtain additional yellowcake were a justification for military action, most prominently in the January 2003, State of the Union address, in which President Bush declared that Iraq had sought uranium, citing British intelligence sources.
In response, Wilson wrote a critical New York Times op-ed piece in June 2003 stating that he had personally investigated claims of yellowcake purchases and believed them to be fraudulent. After Wilson’s op-ed, Wilson’s wife Valerie Plamewas publicly identified as an undercover CIA analyst by a columnist. This led to aJustice Department investigation into the source of the leak. The federal investigation led to the conviction of I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
On 1 May 2005, the “Downing Street memo” was published in The Sunday Times. It contained an overview of a secret 23 July 2002, meeting among British government,Ministry of Defence, and British intelligence figures who discussed the build-up to the Iraq war—including direct references to classified US policy of the time. The memo stated that “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy”.
In September 2002, the Bush administration, the CIA and the DIA said attempts by Iraq to acquire high-strength aluminum tubes that were prohibited under the UN monitoring program and which they said pointed to a clandestine effort to make centrifuges to enrich uranium for nuclear bombs. This analysis was opposed by the United States Department of Energy(DOE) and INR, which was significant because of DOE’s expertise in such gas centrifuges and nuclear weapons programs. The DOE and INR argued that the Iraqi tubes were poorly suited for centrifuges and that while it was technically possible with additional modification, conventional military uses were more plausible. A report released by the Institute for Science and International Security in 2002 reported that it was highly unlikely that the tubes could be used to enrich uranium.
An effort by the DOE to correct this detail in comments prepared for United States Secretary of State Colin Powell‘s UN appearance was rebuffed by the administration and Powell, in his address to the UN Security Council just before the war, referenced the aluminum tubes, stating that while experts disagreed on whether or not the tubes were destined for a centrifuge program, the specifications of the tubes were unusually tight. Powell later admitted he had presented what turned out to be an inaccurate case to the UN on Iraqi weapons, and the intelligence he was relying on was, in some cases, “deliberately misleading.” After the 2008 US presidential election, and the election of Democratic party nomineeBarack Obama, President Bush stated that “[my] biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq”.
The CIA had contacted Iraq’s foreign minister, Naji Sabri, who was being paid by the French as an agent. Sabri informed them that Saddam had hidden poison gas among Sunni tribesmen, had ambitions for a nuclear program but that it was not active, and that no biological weapons were being produced or stockpiled, although research was underway. According to Sidney Blumenthal, George Tenet briefed Bush on 18 September 2002, that Sabri had informed them that Iraq did not have WMD.
On 21 June 2006 the US House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released key points from a classified report from the National Ground Intelligence Center on the recovery of a small number of degraded chemical munitions in Iraq. The report stated that “Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent.” However, all are thought to be pre-Gulf War munitions.
Based on reports obtained by the German intelligence service from an Iraqi defector codenamed “Curveball“, Colin Powell presented evidence to the United Nations security council that Iraq had an active biological weapons programs. On 15 February 2011, the defector—a scientist identified as Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janafi—admitted to journalists working for The Guardian newspaper that he lied to the Bundesnachrichtendienst in order to strengthen the case against Saddam Hussein, whom he wished to see removed from power.
Post-invasion views on WMD
In December 2009, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that he “would still have thought it right to remove [Saddam Hussein]” regardless of whether Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction or not.
Preparations for Iraq war
In the days immediately following 9/11, the Bush Administration national security team actively debated an invasion of Iraq. A memo written by Sec. Rumsfeld dated 27 November 2001 considers a US-Iraq war. One section of the memo questions “How start?”, listing multiple possible justifications for a US-Iraq War.
During 2002 the amount of ordnance used by British and American aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones of Iraq increased compared to the previous years and by August had “become a full air offensive”. Tommy Franks, the allied commander, later stated that the bombing was designed to “degrade” the Iraqi air defense system before an invasion.
In October 2002, a few days before the US Senate voted on the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, about 75 senators were told in closed session that Iraq had the means of attacking the Eastern Seaboard of the US with biological or chemical weapons delivered byunmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs.)On 5 February 2003, Colin Powellpresented further evidence in his Iraqi WMD program presentation to the UN Security Council that UAVs were ready to be launched against the United States. At the time, there was a vigorous dispute within the US military and intelligence communities as to whether CIA conclusions about Iraqi UAVs were accurate and other intelligence agencies suggested that Iraq did not possess any offensive UAV capability, saying the few they had were designed for surveillance and intended for reconnaissance. The Senate voted to approve the Joint Resolution with the support of large bipartisan majorities on 11 October 2002, providing the Bush administration with alegal basis for the US invasion under US law.
The resolution granted the authorization by the Constitution of the United States and the United States Congress for the President to command the military to fight anti-United States violence. Citing the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, the resolution reiterated that it should be the policy of the United States to remove the Saddam regime and promote a democratic replacement. The authorization was signed by President George W. Bush on 16 October 2002.
Chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix remarked in January 2003 that “Iraq appears not to have come to a genuine acceptance—not even today—of the disarmament, which was demanded of it and which it needs to carry out to win the confidence of the world and to live in peace.” Among other things he noted that 1,000 short tons (910 t) of chemical agent were unaccounted for, information on Iraq’s VX nerve agent program was missing, and that “no convincing evidence” was presented for the destruction of 8,500 litres (1,900 imp gal; 2,200 US gal) of anthrax that had been declared.
In the 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush said “we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs”. On 5 February 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared before the UN to present evidence that Iraq was hiding unconventional weapons. The French government also believed that Saddam had stockpiles of anthrax and botulism toxin, and the ability to produce VX. In March, Blix said progress had been made in inspections, and no evidence of WMD had been found. Iraqi scientist Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi codenamed “Curveball”, admitted in February 2011, that he lied to the CIA about biological weapons in order to get the US to attack and remove Saddam from power.
In early 2003, the US, British, and Spanish governments proposed the so-called “eighteenth resolution” to give Iraq a deadline for compliance with previous resolutions enforced by the threat of military action. This proposed resolution was subsequently withdrawn due to lack of support on the UN Security Council. In particular, North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO) members France, Germany and Canada and non-NATO member Russia were opposed to military intervention in Iraq, due to the high level of risk to the international community’s security, and defended disarmament through diplomacy.
A meeting between George W. Bush and Tony Blair took place on 31 January 2003, in the White House. A secret memo of this meetingpurportedly showed that the Bush administration had already decided on the invasion of Iraq at that point. Bush was allegedly floating the idea of painting a U‑2 spyplane in UN colors and letting it fly low over Iraq to provoke Iraqi forces into shooting it down, thereby providing a pretext for the United States and Britain to invade. Bush and Blair made a secret deal to carry out the invasion regardless of whether WMD were discovered by UN weapons inspectors, in direct contradiction with statements Blair made to the British House of Commons afterwards that the Iraqi regime would be given a final chance to disarm. In the memo, Bush is paraphrased as saying, “The start date for the military campaign was now pencilled in for 10 March. This was when the bombing would begin.” Bush said to Blair that he “thought it unlikely that there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups” in Iraq after the war.
Opposition to invasion
In October 2002 former US President Bill Clinton warned about possible dangers of pre-emptive military action against Iraq. Speaking in the UK on a Labour Party conference he said: “As a preemptive action today, however well-justified, may come back with unwelcome consequences in the future….I don’t care how precise your bombs and your weapons are, when you set them off, innocent people will die.”
On 20 January 2003, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin declared “we believe that military intervention would be the worst solution”. Meanwhile anti-war groups across the world organised public protests. According to French academic Dominique Reynié, between 3 January and 12 April 2003, 36 million people across the globe took part in almost 3,000 protests against war in Iraq, with demonstrations on 15 February 2003, being the largest and most prolific. Nelson Mandela voiced his opposition in late January, stating “All that (Mr. Bush) wants is Iraqi oil,”.
In February 2003, the US Army’s top general, Eric Shinseki, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that it would take “several hundred thousand soldiers” to secure Iraq. Two days later, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the post-war troop commitment would be less than the number of troops required to win the war, and that “the idea that it would take several hundred thousand US forces is far from the mark.” Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Shineski’s estimate was “way off the mark,” because other countries would take part in an occupying force.
In March 2003, Hans Blix reported that “No evidence of proscribed activities have so far been found” in Iraq, saying that progress was made in inspections which would continue. He estimated the time remaining for disarmament being verified through inspections to be “months”. But the US government announced that “diplomacy has failed”, and that it would proceed with a coalition of allied countries—named the “coalition of the willing“—to rid Iraq of its alleged WMD. The US government abruptly advised UN weapons inspectors to leave Baghdad immediately.
There were serious legal questions surrounding the launching of the war against Iraq and the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war in general. On 16 September 2004, Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations, said of the invasion, “I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN Charter. From our point of view, from the Charter point of view, it was illegal.”
In November 2008 Lord Bingham, the former British Law Lord, described the war a serious violation of international law, and accused Britain and the United States of acting like a “world vigilante“. He also criticized the post-invasion record of Britain as “an occupying power in Iraq”. Regarding the treatment of Iraqi detainees in Abu Ghraib, Bingham said: “Particularly disturbing to proponents of the rule of law is the cynical lack of concern for international legality among some top officials in the Bush administration.” In July 2010, Deputy Prime Minister of the UK Nick Clegg, in an official PMQs session in Parliament, condemned the invasion of Iraq as illegal. Theorist Francis Fukuyama has argued that “the Iraq war and the close association it created between military invasion and democracy promotion tarnished the latter”.
The first Central Intelligence Agency team entered Iraq on 10 July 2002. This team was composed of members of the CIA’s Special Activities Division and was later joined by members of the US military’s elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Together, they prepared for the invasion of conventional forces. These efforts consisted of persuading the commanders of several Iraqimilitary divisions to surrender rather than oppose the invasion, and to identify all of the initial leadership targets during very high risk reconnaissance missions.
Most importantly, their efforts organized the Kurdish Peshmerga to become the northern front of the invasion. Together this force defeated Ansar al-Islam in Iraqi Kurdistan before the invasion and then defeated the Iraqi army in the north.The battle against Ansar al-Islam led to the death of a substantial number of militants and the uncovering of a chemical weapons facility at Sargat.
At 5:34 a.m. Baghdad time on 20 March 2003 (9:34 p.m., 19 March EST) the surprise military invasion of Iraq began. There was no declaration of war. The 2003 invasion of Iraq, led byUS Army General Tommy Franks, under the codename “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, the UK codename Operation Telic, and the Australian codename Operation Falconer. Coalition forces also cooperated with Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the north. Approximately forty other governments, the “Coalition of the Willing,” participated by providing troops, equipment, services, security, and special forces, with 248,000 soldiers from the United States, 45,000 British soldiers, 2,000 Australian soldiers and 194 Polish soldiers from Special Forces unit GROMsent to Kuwait for the invasion. The invasion force was also supported by Iraqi Kurdish militia troops, estimated to number upwards of 70,000.
According to General Tommy Franks, the objectives of the invasion were, “First, end the regime of Saddam Hussein. Second, to identify, isolate and eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Third, to search for, to capture and to drive out terrorists from that country. Fourth, to collect such intelligence as we can related to terrorist networks. Fifth, to collect such intelligence as we can related to the global network of illicit weapons of mass destruction. Sixth, to end sanctions and to immediately deliver humanitarian support to the displaced and to many needy Iraqi citizens. Seventh, to secure Iraq’s oil fields and resources, which belong to the Iraqi people. And last, to help the Iraqi people create conditions for a transition to a representative self-government.”
The invasion was a quick and decisive operation encountering major resistance, though not what the US, British and other forces expected. The Iraqi regime had prepared to fight both a conventional and irregular war at the same time, conceding territory when faced with superior conventional forces, largely armored, but launching smaller scale attacks in the rear using fighters dressed in civilian and paramilitary clothes. Since the initiation of the war in Iraq, numerous programs were created to “enhance psychological resilience and prevent psychological morbidity in troops.” 
Coalition troops launched air and amphibious assault on the Al-Faw peninsula to secure the oil fields there and the important ports, supported by warships of the Royal Navy, Polish Navy, and Royal Australian Navy. The United States Marine Corps‘ 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, attached to 3 Commando Brigade and the PolishSpecial Forces unit GROM attacked the port of Umm Qasr, while theBritish Army‘s 16 Air Assault Brigade secured the oil fields in southern Iraq.
The heavy armor of the US 3rd Infantry Division moved westward and then northward through the western desert toward Baghdad, while the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force moved more easterly along Highway 1 through the center of the country, and 1 (UK) Armoured Division moved northward through the eastern marshland. The US 1st Marine Division fought through Nasiriyah in a battle to seize the major road junction and nearby Talil Airfield. The United States Army 3rd Infantry Division defeated Iraqi forces entrenched in and around the airfield.
With the Nasiriyah and Talil Airfields secured in its rear, the 3rd Infantry Division supported by 101st Airborne Division continued its attack north toward Najaf and Karbala, but a severe sand storm slowed the coalition advance and there was a halt to consolidate and make sure the supply lines were secure. When they started again they secured the Karbala Gap, a key approach to Baghdad, then secured the bridges over the Euphrates River, and US forces poured through the gap on to Baghdad. In the middle of Iraq, the 1st Marine Division fought its way to the eastern side of Baghdad, and prepared for the attack into Baghdad to seize it.
On 9 April, Baghdad fell, ending Saddam’s 24‑year rule. US forces seized the deserted Ba’ath Party ministries and stage-managed the tearing down of a huge iron statue of Saddam, photos and video of which became symbolic of the event, although later controversial. Not seen in the photos or heard on the videos, shot with a zoom lens, was the chant of the inflamed crowd for Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric. In November 2008, Iraqi protesters staged a similar stomping on and burning of an effigy of George W. Bush. The abrupt fall of Baghdad was accompanied by a widespread outpouring of gratitude toward the invaders, but also massive civil disorder, including the looting of public and government buildings and drastically increased crime.
According to the Pentagon, 250,000 short tons (230,000 t) (of 650,000 short tons (590,000 t) total) of ordnance was looted, providing a significant source of ammunition for the Iraqi insurgency. The invasion phase concluded when Tikrit, Saddam’s home town, fell with little resistance to the US Marines of Task Force Tripoli.
In the invasion phase of the war (19 March–30 April), an estimated 9,200 Iraqi combatants were killed by coalition forces along with an estimated 3,750 non-combatants, i.e. civilians who did not take up arms. Coalition forces reported the death in combat of 139 US military personnel and 33 UK military personnel.
2003: Beginnings of insurgency
On 1 May 2003, President Bush visited the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincolnoperating a few miles west of San Diego, California. At sunset Bush held his nationally televised “Mission Accomplished” speech, delivered before the sailors andairmen on the flight deck: Bush declared victory due to the defeat of Iraq’s conventional forces.
Nevertheless, Saddam remained at large and significant pockets of resistance remained. After President Bush’s speech, coalition forces noticed a gradually increasing flurry of attacks on its troops in various regions, especially in the “Sunni Triangle“. The initial Iraqi insurgents were supplied by hundreds of weapons caches created before the invasion by the Iraqi army and Republican Guard.
Initially, Iraqi resistance (described by the coalition as “Anti-Iraqi Forces”) largely stemmed from fedayeen and Saddam/Ba’ath Party loyalists, but soon religious radicals and Iraqis angered by the occupation contributed to the insurgency. The three provinces with the highest number of attacks were Baghdad, Al Anbar, andSalah Ad Din. Those three provinces account for 35% of the population, but as of 5 December 2006, were responsible for 73% of U.S. military deaths and an even higher percentage of recent U.S. military deaths (about 80%.)
Insurgents used guerrilla tactics including: mortars, missiles, suicide attacks,snipers, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), car bombs, small arms fire (usually with assault rifles), and RPGs (rocket propelled grenades), as well as sabotage against the petroleum, water, and electrical infrastructure.
Post-invasion Iraq coalition efforts commenced after the fall of Saddam’s regime. The coalition nations, together with the United Nations, began to work to establish a stable, compliant democratic state capable of defending itself from non-coalition forces, as well as overcoming internal divisions.
Meanwhile, coalition military forces launched several operations around the TigrisRiver peninsula and in the Sunni Triangle. A series of similar operations were launched throughout the summer in the Sunni Triangle. Toward the end of 2003, the intensity and pace of insurgent attacks began to increase. A sharp surge in guerrilla attacks ushered in an insurgent effort that was termed the “Ramadan Offensive“, as it coincided with the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
To counter this offensive, coalition forces begin to use air power and artillery again for the first time since the end of the invasion by striking suspected ambush sites and mortar launching positions. Surveillance of major routes, patrols, and raids on suspected insurgents were stepped up. In addition, two villages, including Saddam’s birthplace of al-Auja and the small town of Abu Hishma were surrounded by barbed wire and carefully monitored.
Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraq Survey Group
Shortly after the invasion, the multinational coalition created the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA; Arabic: سلطة الائتلاف الموحدة), based in the Green Zone, as a transitional government of Iraq until the establishment of a democratic government. Citing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483 (22 May 2003) and the laws of war, the CPA vested itself withexecutive, legislative, and judicial authority over the Iraqi government from the period of the CPA’s inception on 21 April 2003, until its dissolution on 28 June 2004.
The CPA was originally headed by Jay Garner, a former US military officer, but his appointment lasted only until 11 May 2003, when President Bush appointed L. Paul Bremer. Bremer served until the CPA’s dissolution in July 2004.
Another group created by the multinational force in Iraq post-invasion was the 1,400-member international Iraq Survey Group who conducted a fact-finding mission to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes. In 2004 the ISG’s Duelfer Report stated that Iraq did not have a viable WMD program.
Capturing former government leaders
In the summer of 2003, the multinational forces focused on capturing the remaining leaders of the former government. On 22 July, a raid by the U.S. 101st Airborne Division and soldiers from Task Force 20 killed Saddam’s sons (Uday and Qusay) along with one of his grandsons. In all, over 300 top leaders of the former government were killed or captured, as well as numerous lesser functionaries and military personnel.
Most significantly, Saddam Hussein himself was captured on 13 December 2003, on a farm near Tikrit in Operation Red Dawn. The operation was conducted by theUnited States Army‘s 4th Infantry Division and members of Task Force 121. Intelligence on Saddam’s whereabouts came from his family members and former bodyguards.
With the capture of Saddam and a drop in the number of insurgent attacks, some concluded the multinational forces were prevailing in the fight against the insurgency. The provisional government began training the new Iraqi security forces intended to police the country, and the United States promised over $20 billion in reconstruction money in the form of credit against Iraq’s future oil revenues. Oil revenue was also used for rebuilding schools and for work on the electrical and refining infrastructure.
Shortly after the capture of Saddam, elements left out of the Coalition Provisional Authority began to agitate for elections and the formation of an Iraqi Interim Government. Most prominent among these was the Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The Coalition Provisional Authority opposed allowing democratic elections at this time. The insurgents stepped up their activities. The two most turbulent centers were the area around Fallujahand the poor Shia sections of cities from Baghdad (Sadr City) to Basra in the south.
2004: Insurgency expands
- See also: Military operations of the Iraq War for a list of all Coalition operations for this period, 2004 in Iraq, Iraqi coalition counter-insurgency operations, Iraqi insurgency (2003–11), United States occupation of Fallujah, Iraq Spring Fighting of 2004
The start of 2004 was marked by a relative lull in violence. Insurgent forces reorganised during this time, studying the multinational forces’ tactics and planning a renewed offensive. However, violence did increase during the Iraq Spring Fighting of 2004 with foreign fighters from around the Middle East as well as al-Qaeda in Iraq (an affiliated al-Qaeda group), led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi helping to drive the insurgency.
As the insurgency grew there was a distinct change in targeting from the coalition forces towards the new Iraqi Security Forces, as hundreds of Iraqi civilians and police were killed over the next few months in a series of massive bombings. An organized Sunni insurgency, with deep roots and both nationalist and Islamist motivations, was becoming more powerful throughout Iraq. The Shia Mahdi Armyalso began launching attacks on coalition targets in an attempt to seize control from Iraqi security forces. The southern and central portions of Iraq were beginning to erupt in urban guerrilla combat as multinational forces attempted to keep control and prepared for a counteroffensive.
The most serious fighting of the war so far began on 31 March 2004, when Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah ambushed aBlackwater USA convoy led by four U.S.private military contractors who were providing security for food caterers Eurest Support Services. The four armed contractors, Scott Helvenston, Jerko Zovko, Wesley Batalona, and Michael Teague, were killed with grenades and small arms fire. Subsequently, their bodies were dragged from their vehicles by local people, beaten, set ablaze, and their burned corpses hung over a bridge crossing the Euphrates. Photos of the event were released to news agencies worldwide, causing a great deal of indignation and moral outrage in the United States, and prompting an unsuccessful “pacification” of the city: the First Battle of Fallujah in April 2004.
The offensive was resumed in November 2004 in the bloodiest battle of the war so far: the Second Battle of Fallujah, described by the U.S. military as “the heaviest urban combat (that they had been involved in) since the battle of Hue City inVietnam.” During the assault, U.S. forces used white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon against insurgent personnel, attracting controversy. The 46‑day battle resulted in a victory for the coalition, with 95 U.S. soldiers killed along with approximately 1,350 insurgents. Fallujah was totally devastated during the fighting, though civilian casualties were low, as they had mostly fled before the battle.
Another major event of that year was the revelation of widespread prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib which received international media attention in April 2004. First reports of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse, as well as graphic pictures showing U.S. military personnel taunting and abusing Iraqi prisoners, came to public attention from a 60 Minutes II news report (28 April) and a Seymour M. Hersh article in The New Yorker (posted online on 30 April.) Military correspondentThomas Ricks claimed that these revelations dealt a blow to the moral justifications for the occupation in the eyes of many people, especially Iraqis, and was a turning point in the war.
2004 also marked the beginning of Military Transition Teams in Iraq, which were teams of U.S. military advisors assigned directly to New Iraqi Army units.
2005: Elections and transitional government
On 31 January, Iraqis elected the Iraqi Transitional Government in order to draft a permanent constitution. Although some violence and a widespread Sunni boycottmarred the event, most of the eligible Kurd and Shia populace participated. On 4 February, Paul Wolfowitz announced that 15,000 U.S. troops whose tours of duty had been extended in order to provide election security would be pulled out of Iraq by the next month. February to April proved to be relatively peaceful months compared to the carnage of November and January, with insurgent attacks averaging 30 a day from the prior average of 70.
The Battle of Abu Ghraib on 2 April 2005 was an attack on United States forces at Abu Ghraib prison, which consisted of heavy mortar and rocket fire, under which armed insurgents attacked with grenades, small arms, and two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED). The U.S. force’s munitions ran so low that orders to fix bayonets were given in preparation for hand-to-hand fighting. An estimated 80–120 armed insurgents launched a massive coordinated assault on the U.S. military facility and internment camp at Abu Ghraib, Iraq. It was considered to be the largest coordinated assault on a U.S. base since the Vietnam War.
Hopes for a quick end to the insurgency and a withdrawal of US troops were dashed in May, Iraq’s bloodiest month since the invasion. Suicide bombers, believed to be mainly disheartened Iraqi Sunni Arabs, Syrians and Saudis, tore through Iraq. Their targets were often Shia gatherings or civilian concentrations of Shias. As a result, over 700 Iraqi civilians died in that month, as well as 79 U.S. soldiers.
The summer of 2005 saw fighting around Baghdad and at Tall Afar in northwestern Iraq as U.S. forces tried to seal off the Syrian border. This led to fighting in the autumn in the small towns of the Euphrates valley between the capital and that border.
A referendum was held on 15 October in which the new Iraqi constitution was ratified. An Iraqi national assembly waselected in December, with participation from the Sunnis as well as the Kurds and Shia.
Insurgent attacks increased in 2005 with 34,131 recorded incidents, compared to a total 26,496 for the previous year.
2006: Civil war and permanent Iraqi government
The beginning of 2006 was marked by government creation talks, growing sectarian violence, and continuous anti-coalition attacks. Sectarian violence expanded to a new level of intensity following the al-Askari Mosque bombing in the Iraqi city of Samarra, on 22 February 2006. The explosion at the mosque, one of the holiest sites in Shi’a Islam, is believed to have been caused by a bomb planted by al-Qaeda.
Although no injuries occurred in the blast, the mosque was severely damaged and the bombing resulted in violence over the following days. Over 100 dead bodies with bullet holes were found on 23 February, and at least 165 people are thought to have been killed. In the aftermath of this attack the U.S. military calculated that the average homicide rate in Baghdad tripled from 11 to 33 deaths per day. In 2006 the UN described the environment in Iraq as a “civil war-like situation”.
On March 12, five United States Army soldiers of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, raped the 14-year-old Iraqi girl Abeer Qassim Hamza al‑Janabi, and then murdered her, her father, her mother Fakhriya Taha Muhasen and her six-year-old sister Hadeel Qassim Hamza al-Janabi. The soldiers then set fire to the girl’s body to conceal evidence of the crime.Four of the soldiers were convicted of rape and murder and the fifth was convicted of lesser crimes for the involvement in the war crime, that became known as the Mahmudiyah killings.
On 6 June 2006, the United States was successful in tracking Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in a targeted killing, while attending a meeting in an isolated safehouse approximately 8 km (5.0 mi) north of Baqubah. Having been tracked by a British UAV, radio contact was made between the controller and two United States Air Force F-16C jets which identified the house and at 14:15 GMT, the lead jet dropped two 500‑pound (230 kg) guided bombs, a laser-guided GBU‑12 and GPS-guided GBU‑38 on the building where he was located at. Six others—three male and three female individuals—were also reported killed. Among those killed were one of his wives and their child.
The current government of Iraq took office on 20 May 2006, following approval by themembers of the Iraqi National Assembly. This followed the general election in December 2005. The government succeeded the Iraqi Transitional Government which had continued in office in a caretaker capacity until the formation of the permanent government.
Iraq Study Group report and Saddam’s execution
The Iraq Study Group Report was released on 6 December 2006. Iraq Study Group, made up of people from both of the major U.S. parties, was led by co-chairs James Baker, a former Secretary of State (Republican), and Lee H. Hamilton, a former U.S. Representative (Democrat). It concluded that “the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating” and “U.S. forces seem to be caught in a mission that has no foreseeable end.” The report’s 79 recommendations include increasing diplomatic measures with Iran and Syria and intensifying efforts to train Iraqi troops. On 18 December, a Pentagon report found that insurgent attacks were averaging about 960 attacks per week, the highest since the reports had begun in 2005.
Coalition forces formally transferred control of a province to the Iraqi government, the first since the war. Military prosecutors charged eight U.S. Marines with the murders of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha in November 2005, 10 of them women and children. Four officers were also charged with dereliction of duty in relation to the event.
2007: U.S. troops surge
In a 10 January 2007, televised address to the US public, Bush proposed 21,500 more troops for Iraq, a job program for Iraqis, more reconstruction proposals, and $1.2 billion for these programs. On 23 January 2007, in the 2007 State of the Union Address, Bush announced “deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq”.
On 10 February 2007, David Petraeus was made commander of Multi-National Force – Iraq(MNF-I), the four-star post that oversees all coalition forces in country, replacing GeneralGeorge Casey. In his new position, Petraeus oversaw all coalition forces in Iraq and employed them in the new “Surge” strategy outlined by the Bush administration.2007 also saw a sharp increase in insurgent chlorine bombings.
On 10 May 2007, 144 Iraqi Parliamentary lawmakers signed onto a legislative petition calling on the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal. On 3 June 2007, the Iraqi Parliament voted 85 to 59 to require the Iraqi government to consult with Parliament before requesting additional extensions of the UN Security Council Mandate for Coalition operations in Iraq. Despite this, the mandate was renewed on 18 December 2007, without the approval of the Iraqi parliament.
Pressures on US troops were compounded by the continuing withdrawal of coalition forces. In early 2007,British Prime Minister Blair announced that following Operation Sinbad British troops would begin to withdraw from Basra Governorate, handing security over to the Iraqis. In July Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen also announced the withdrawal of 441 Danish troops from Iraq, leaving only a unit of nine soldiers manning four observational helicopters.
Planned troop reduction
In a speech made to Congress on 10 September 2007, Petraeus “envisioned the withdrawal of roughly 30,000 U.S. troops by next summer, beginning with a Marine contingent [in September].” On 13 September, Bush backed a limited withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Bush said 5,700 personnel would be home by Christmas 2007, and expected thousands more to return by July 2008. The plan would take troop numbers back to their level before the surge at the beginning of 2007.
Effects of the surge on security
By March 2008, violence in Iraq was reported curtailed by 40–80%, according to a Pentagon report. Independent reports raised questions about those assessments. An Iraqi military spokesman claimed that civilian deaths since the start of the troop surge plan were 265 in Baghdad, down from 1,440 in the four previous weeks. The New York Times counted more than 450 Iraqi civilians killed during the same 28‑day period, based on initial daily reports from Iraqi Interior Ministry and hospital officials.
Historically, the daily counts tallied by the New York Times have underestimated the total death toll by 50% or more when compared to studies by the United Nations, which rely upon figures from the Iraqi Health Ministry and morgue figures.
The rate of U.S. combat deaths in Baghdad nearly doubled to 3.14 per day in the first seven weeks of the “surge” in security activity, compared to previous period. Across the rest of Iraq it decreased slightly.
On 14 August 2007, the deadliest single attack of the whole war occurred. Nearly 800 civilians were killed by a series of coordinated suicide bomb attacks on the northern Iraqi settlement of Kahtaniya. More than 100 homes and shops were destroyed in the blasts. U.S. officials blamed al‑Qaeda. The targeted villagers belonged to the non-Muslim Yazidi ethnic minority. The attack may have represented the latest in a feud that erupted earlier that year when members of the Yazidi community stoned to death a teenage girl called Du’a Khalil Aswad accused of dating a Sunni Arab man and converting to Islam. The killing of the girl was recorded on camera-mobiles and the video was uploaded onto the internet.
On 13 September 2007, Abdul Sattar Abu Risha was killed in a bomb attack in the city of Ramadi. He was an important U.S. ally because he led the “Anbar Awakening“, an alliance of Sunni Arab tribes that opposed al-Qaeda. The latter organisation claimed responsibility for the attack. A statement posted on the Internet by the shadowy Islamic State of Iraq called Abu Risha “one of the dogs of Bush” and described Thursday’s killing as a “heroic operation that took over a month to prepare”.
There was a reported trend of decreasing U.S. troop deaths after May 2007, and violence against coalition troops had fallen to the “lowest levels since the first year of the American invasion”.These, and several other positive developments, were attributed to the surge by many analysts.
Data from the Pentagon and other U.S. agencies such as theGovernment Accountability Office (GAO) found that daily attacks against civilians in Iraq remained “about the same” since February. The GAO also stated that there was no discernible trend in sectarian violence. However, this report ran counter to reports to Congress, which showed a general downward trend in civilian deaths and ethno-sectarian violence since December 2006. By late 2007, as the U.S. troop surge began to wind down, violence in Iraq had begun to decrease from its 2006 highs.
Entire neighborhoods in Baghdad were ethnically cleansed by Shia and Sunni militias and sectarian violence has broken out in every Iraqi city where there is a mixed population. Investigative reporter Bob Woodward cites U.S. government sources according to which the U.S. “surge” was not the primary reason for the drop in violence in 2007–2008. Instead, according to that view, the reduction of violence was due to newer covert techniques by U.S. military and intelligence officials to find, target and kill insurgents, including working closely with former insurgents.
In the Shia region near Basra, British forces turned over security for the region to Iraqi Security Forces. Basra is the ninth province of Iraq’s 18 provinces to be returned to local security forces’ control since the beginning of the occupation.
More than half of the members of Iraq’s parliament rejected the continuing occupation of their country for the first time. 144 of the 275 lawmakers signed onto a legislative petition that would require the Iraqi government to seek approval from Parliament before it requests an extension of the UN mandate for foreign forces to be in Iraq, which expires at the end of 2008. It also calls for a timetable for troop withdrawal and a freeze on the size of foreign forces. The UN Security Council mandate for U.S.‑led forces in Iraq will terminate “if requested by the government of Iraq.” Under Iraqi law, the speaker must present a resolution called for by a majority of lawmakers. 59% of those polled in the U.S. support a timetable for withdrawal.
In mid-2007, the Coalition began a controversial program to recruit Iraqi Sunnis (often former insurgents) for the formation of “Guardian” militias. These Guardian militias are intended to support and secure various Sunni neighborhoods against the Islamists.
Tensions with Iran
In 2007, tensions increased greatly between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan due to the latter’s giving sanctuary to the militant Kurdish secessionist group Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PEJAK.) According to reports, Iran had been shelling PEJAK positions in Iraqi Kurdistan since 16 August. These tensions further increased with an alleged border incursion on 23 August by Iranian troops who attacked several Kurdish villages killing an unknown number of civilians and militants.
Coalition forces also began to target alleged Iranian Quds force operatives in Iraq, either arresting or killing suspected members. The Bush administration and coalition leaders began to publicly state that Iran was supplying weapons, particularly EFP devices, to Iraqi insurgents and militias although to date have failed to provide any proof for these allegations. Further sanctions on Iranian organizations were also announced by the Bush administration in the autumn of 2007. On 21 November 2007, Lieutenant General James Dubik, who is in charge of training Iraqi security forces, praised Iran for its “contribution to the reduction of violence” in Iraq by upholding its pledge to stop the flow of weapons, explosives and training of extremists in Iraq.
Tensions with Turkey
Border incursions by PKK militants based in Northern Iraq have continued to harass Turkish forces, with casualties on both sides. In the fall of 2007, the Turkish military stated their right to cross the Iraqi Kurdistan border in “hot pursuit” of PKK militants and began shelling Kurdish areas in Iraq and attacking PKK bases in the Mount Cudi region with aircraft.The Turkish parliament approved a resolution permitting the military to pursue the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan. In November, Turkish gunships attacked parts of northern Iraq in the first such attack by Turkish aircraft since the border tensions escalated. Another series of attacks in mid-December hit PKK targets in the Qandil, Zap, Avashin and Hakurk regions. The latest series of attacks involved at least 50 aircraft and artillery and Kurdish officials reported one civilian killed and two wounded.
Additionally, weapons that were given to Iraqi security forces by the U.S. military are being recovered by authorities in Turkey after being used by PKK in that state.
Blackwater private security controversy
On 17 September 2007, the Iraqi government announced that it was revoking the license of the U.S. security firmBlackwater USA over the firm’s involvement in the killing of eight civilians, including a woman and an infant, in a firefight that followed a car bomb explosion near a State Department motorcade.
2008: Civil war continues
Throughout 2008, U.S. officials and independent think tanks began to point to improvements in the security situation, as measured by key statistics. According to the U.S. Defense Department, in December 2008 the “overall level of violence” in the country had dropped 80% since before the surge began in January 2007, and the country’s murder rate had dropped to prewar levels. They also pointed out that the casualty figure for U.S. forces in 2008 was 314 against a figure of 904 in 2007.
According to the Brookings Institution, Iraqi civilian fatalities numbered 490 in November 2008 as against 3,500 in January 2007, whereas attacks against the coalition numbered somewhere between 200 and 300 per week in the latter half of 2008, as opposed to a peak of nearly 1,600 in summer 2007. The number of Iraqi security forces killed was under 100 per month in the second half of 2008, from a high of 200 to 300 in summer 2007.
Meanwhile, the proficiency of the Iraqi military increased as it launched a spring offensive against Shia militias which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had previously been criticized for allowing to operate. This began with a March operation against theMehdi Army in Basra, which led to fighting in Shia areas up and down the country, especially in the Sadr City district of Baghdad. By October, the British officer in charge of Basra said that since the operation the town had become “secure” and had a murder rate comparable to Manchester in England. The U.S. military also said there had been a decrease of about a quarter in the quantity of Iranian-made explosives found in Iraq in 2008, possibly indicating a change in Iranian policy.
Progress in Sunni areas continued after members of the Awakening movement were transferred from U.S. military to Iraqi control. In May, the Iraqi army – backed by coalition support – launched an offensive in Mosul, the last major Iraqi stronghold of al-Qaeda. Despite detaining thousands of individuals, the offensive failed to lead to major long-term security improvements in Mosul. At the end of the year, the city remained a major flashpoint.
In the regional dimension, the ongoing conflict between Turkey and PKKintensified on 21 February, when Turkey launched a ground attack into the Quandeel Mountains of Northern Iraq. In the nine-day-long operation, around 10,000 Turkish troops advanced up to 25 km into Northern Iraq. This was the first substantial ground incursion by Turkish forces since 1995.
Shortly after the incursion began, both the Iraqi cabinet and the Kurdistan regional government condemned Turkey’s actions and called for the immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops from the region. Turkish troops withdrew on 29 February.The fate of the Kurds and the future of the ethnically diverse city of Kirkuk remained a contentious issue in Iraqi politics.
U.S. military officials met these trends with cautious optimism as they approached what they described as the “transition” embodied in the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement which was negotiated throughout 2008. The commander of the coalition, U.S. General Raymond T. Odierno, noted that “in military terms, transitions are the most dangerous time” in December 2008.
Spring offensives on Shia militias
At the end of March, the Iraqi Army, with Coalition air support, launched an offensive, dubbed “Charge of the Knights”, in Basra to secure the area from militias. This was the first major operation where the Iraqi Army did not have direct combat support from conventional coalition ground troops. The offensive was opposed by the Mahdi Army, one of the militias, which controlled much of the region.Fighting quickly spread to other parts of Iraq: including Sadr City, Al Kut, Al Hillahand others. During the fighting Iraqi forces met stiff resistance from militiamen in Basra to the point that the Iraqi military offensive slowed to a crawl, with the high attrition rates finally forcing the Sadrists to the negotiating table.
Following talks with Brig. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Qods brigades of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the intercession of the Iranian government, on 31 March 2008, al‑Sadr ordered his followers to ceasefire. The militiamen kept their weapons.
By 12 May 2008, Basra “residents overwhelmingly reported a substantial improvement in their everyday lives” according to the New York Times. “Government forces have now taken over Islamic militants’ headquarters and halted the death squads and ‘vice enforcers’ who attacked women, Christians, musicians, alcohol sellers and anyone suspected of collaborating with Westerners”, according to the report; however, when asked how long it would take for lawlessness to resume if the Iraqi army left, one resident replied, “one day”.
In late April roadside bombings continued to rise from a low in January—from 114 bombings to more than 250, surpassing the May 2007 high.
Speaking before the Congress on 8 April 2008, General David Petraeus urged delaying troop withdrawals, saying, “I’ve repeatedly noted that we haven’t turned any corners, we haven’t seen any lights at the end of the tunnel,” referencing the comments of then President Bush and former Vietnam-era General William Westmoreland. When asked by the Senate if reasonable people could disagree on the way forward, Petraeus said, “We fight for the right of people to have other opinions.”
Upon questioning by then Senate committee chair Joe Biden, Ambassador Crocker admitted that Al‑Qaeda in Iraq was less important than the Al Qaeda organization led byOsama bin Laden along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Lawmakers from both parties complained that U.S. taxpayers are carrying Iraq’s burden as it earns billions of dollars in oil revenues.
Iraqi security forces rearm
Iraq became one of the top current purchasers of U.S. military equipment with their army trading its AK‑47 assault rifles for the U.S. M‑16 and M‑4 rifles, among other equipment. In 2008 alone, Iraq accounted for more than $12.5 billion of the$34 billion U.S. weapon sales to foreign countries (not including the potential F-16 fighter planes.).
Iraq sought 36 F‑16s, the most sophisticated weapons system Iraq has attempted to purchase. The Pentagon notified Congress that it had approved the sale of 24 American attack helicopters to Iraq, valued at as much as $2.4 billion. Including the helicopters, Iraq announced plans to purchase at least $10 billion in U.S. tanks and armored vehicles, transport planes and other battlefield equipment and services. Over the summer, the Defense Department announced that the Iraqi government wanted to order more than 400 armored vehicles and other equipment worth up to$3 billion, and six C-130J transport planes, worth up to $1.5 billion. From 2005 to 2008, the United States had completed approximately $20 billion in arms sales agreements with Iraq.
Status of forces agreement
The U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement was approved by the Iraqi government on 4 December 2008. It establishes that U.S. combat forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by 30 June 2009, and that all U.S. forces will be completely out of Iraq by 31 December 2011. The pact is subject to possible negotiations which could delay withdrawal and a referendum scheduled for mid-2009 in Iraq which may require all U.S. forces to completely leave by the middle of 2010. The pact requires criminal charges for holding prisoners over 24 hours, and requires a warrant for searches of homes and buildings that are not related to combat.
U.S. contractors working for U.S. forces will be subject to Iraqi criminal law, while contractors working for the State Department and other U.S. agencies may retain their immunity. If U.S. forces commit still undecided “major premeditated felonies” while off-duty and off-base, they will be subject to the still undecided procedures laid out by a joint U.S.‑Iraq committee if the United States certifies the forces were off-duty.
Some Americans have discussed “loopholes” and some Iraqis have said they believe parts of the pact remain a “mystery”. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has predicted that after 2011 he would expect to see “perhaps several tens of thousands of American troops” as part of a residual force in Iraq.
Several groups of Iraqis protested the passing of the SOFA accord as prolonging and legitimizing the occupation. Tens of thousands of Iraqis burned an effigy of George W. Bush in a central Baghdad square where U.S. troops five years previously organized a tearing down of a statue of Saddam Hussein. Some Iraqis expressed skeptical optimism that the U.S. would completely end its presence by 2011. On 4 December 2008, Iraq’s presidential council approved the security pact.
A representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al‑Sistani’s expressed concern with the ratified version of the pact and noted that the government of Iraq has no authority to control the transfer of occupier forces into and out of Iraq, no control of shipments, and that the pact grants the occupiers immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts. He said that Iraqi rule in the country is not complete while the occupiers are present, but that ultimately the Iraqi people would judge the pact in a referendum. Thousands of Iraqi have gathered weekly after Friday prayers and shouted anti‑U.S. and anti-Israeli slogans protesting the security pact between Baghdad and Washington. A protester said that despite the approval of the Interim Security pact, the Iraqi people would break it in a referendum next year.
2009: Coalition redeployment
Transfer of Green Zone
On 1 January 2009, the United States handed control of the Green Zoneand Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace to the Iraqi government in a ceremonial move described by the country’s prime minister as a restoration of Iraq’s sovereignty. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he would propose 1 January be declared national “Sovereignty Day”. “This palace is the symbol of Iraqi sovereignty and by restoring it, a real message is directed to all Iraqi people that Iraqi sovereignty has returned to its natural status”, al‑Maliki said.
The U.S. military attributed a decline in reported civilians deaths to several factors including the U.S.‑led “troop surge”, the growth of U.S.-funded Awakening Councils, and Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s call for his militia to abide by a cease fire.
On 31 January, Iraq held provincial elections. Provincial candidates and those close to them faced some political assassinations and attempted assassinations, and there was also some other violence related to the election.
Iraqi voter turnout failed to meet the original expectations which were set and was the lowest on record in Iraq, but U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker characterized the turnout as “large”. Of those who turned out to vote, some groups complained of disenfranchisement and fraud. After the post-election curfew was lifted, some groups made threats about what would happen if they were unhappy with the results.
Exit strategy announcement
On 27 February, United States President Barack Obama gave a speech at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in the US state of North Carolina announcing that the US combat mission in Iraq would end by 31 August 2010. A “transitional force” of up to 50,000 troops tasked with training the Iraqi Security Forces, conductingcounterterrorism operations, and providing general support may remain until the end of 2011, the president added.
The day before Obama’s speech, Prime Minister of Iraq Nuri al‑Maliki said at a press conference that the government of Iraq had “no worries” over the impending departure of U.S. forces and expressed confidence in the ability of the Iraqi Security Forces and police to maintain order without US military support.
Sixth anniversary protests
On 9 April, the 6th anniversary of Baghdad’s fall to coalition forces, tens of thousands of Iraqis thronged Baghdad to mark the anniversary and demand the immediate departure of coalition forces. The crowds of Iraqis stretched from the Sadr City slum in northeast Baghdad to the square around 5 km (3.1 mi) away, where protesters burned an effigy featuring the face of U.S. President George W. Bush. There were also Sunni Muslims in the crowd. Police said many Sunnis, including prominent leaders such as a founding sheikh from the Sons of Iraq, took part.
Coalition forces withdraw
On 30 April, the United Kingdom formally ended combat operations. Prime Minister Gordon Brown characterized the operation in Iraq as a “success story” because of UK troops’ efforts. Britain handed control of Basra to the United States Armed Forces.
On 28 July, Australia withdrew its combat forces as the Australian military presence in Iraq ended, per an agreement with the Iraqi government.
The withdrawal of U.S. forces began at the end of June, with 38 bases to be handed over to Iraqi forces. On 29 June 2009, U.S. forces withdrew from Baghdad. On 30 November 2009, Iraqi Interior Ministry officials reported that the civilian death toll in Iraq fell to its lowest level in November since the 2003 invasion.
Iraq awards oil contracts
On 30 June and again on 11 December, the Iraqi ministry of oil awarded contracts to international oil companies for some of Iraq’s many oil fields. The winning oil companies enter joint ventures with the Iraqi ministry of oil, and the terms of the awarded contracts include extraction of oil for a fixed fee of approximately $1.40 per barrel. The fees will only be paid once a production threshold set by the Iraqi ministry of oil is reached.
2010: U.S. drawdown and Operation New Dawn 
On 18 April, US and Iraqi forces killed Abu Ayyub al-Masri the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq in a joint American and Iraqi operation near Tikrit, Iraq. The coalition forces believed al-Masri to be wearing a suicide vest and proceeded cautiously. After the lengthy exchange of fire and bombing of the house, the Iraqi troops stormed inside and found two women still alive, one of whom was al-Masri’s wife, and four dead men, identified as al-Masri, Abu Abdullah al-Rashid al-Baghdadi, an assistant to al-Masri, and al-Baghdadi’s son. A suicide vest was indeed found on al-Masri’s corpse, as the Iraqi Army subsequently stated. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the killings of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri at a news conference in Baghdad and showed reporters photographs of their bloody corpses. “The attack was carried out by ground forces which surrounded the house, and also through the use of missiles,” Mr Maliki said. “During the operation computers were seized with e-mails and messages to the two biggest terrorists, Osama bin Laden and [his deputy] Ayman al-Zawahiri”, Maliki added. U.S. forces commander Gen. Raymond Odierno praised the operation. “The death of these terrorists is potentially the most significant blow to al‑Qaeda in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency”, he said. “There is still work to do but this is a significant step forward in ridding Iraq of terrorists.”
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden stated that the deaths of the top two al‑Qaeda figures in Iraq are “potentially devastating” blows to the terror network there and proof that Iraqi security forces are gaining ground.
On 20 June, Iraq’s Central Bank was bombed in an attack that left 15 people dead and brought much of downtown Baghdad to a standstill. The attack was claimed to have been carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq. This attack was followed by another attack on Iraq’s Bank of Trade building that killed 26 and wounded 52 people.
In late August 2010, insurgents conducted a major attack with at least 12 car bombs simultaneously detonating from Mosul to Basra and killing at least 51. These attacks coincided with the U.S. plans for a withdrawal of combat troops.
From the end of August 2010, the United States attempted to dramatically cut its combat role in Iraq, with the withdrawal of all US ground forces designated for active combat operations. The last US combat brigades departed Iraq in the early morning of 19 August. Convoys of US troops had been moving out of Iraq to Kuwait for several days, and NBC News broadcast live from Iraq as the last convoy crossed the border. While all combat brigades left the country, an additional 50,000 personnel (including Advise and Assist Brigades) remained in the country to provide support for the Iraqi military. These troops are required to leave Iraq by 31 December 2011 under an agreement between the US and Iraqi governments.
The desire to step back from an active counter-insurgency role did not however mean that the Advise and Assist Brigades and other remaining US forces would not be caught up in combat. A standards memo from the Associated Press reiterated “combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials”.
State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley stated “…we are not ending our work in Iraq, We have a long-term commitment to Iraq.” On 31 August, Obama announced the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom from the Oval Office. In his address, he covered the role of the United States’ soft power, the effect the war had on the United States economy, and the legacy of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
On the same day in Iraq, at a ceremony at one of Saddam Hussein‘s former residences at Al Faw Palace in Baghdad, a number of US dignitaries spoke in a ceremony for television cameras, avoiding overtones of the triumphalism present in US announcements made earlier in the war. Vice President Joe Biden expressed concerns regarding the ongoing lack of progress in forming a new Iraqi government, saying of the Iraqi people that “they expect a government that reflects the results of the votes they cast”. Gen. Ray Odierno stated that the new era “in no way signals the end of our commitment to the people of Iraq”. Speaking in Ramadi earlier in the day, Gates said that U.S. forces “have accomplished something really quite extraordinary here, [but] how it all weighs in the balance over time I think remains to be seen”. When asked by reporters if the seven-year war was worth doing, Gates commented that “It really requires a historian’s perspective in terms of what happens here in the long run”. He noted the Iraq War “will always be clouded by how it began” in regards Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, which were never confirmed to have existed. Gates continued, “This is one of the reasons that this war remains so controversial at home”. On the same day Gen. Ray Odierno was replaced by Lloyd Austin as Commander of US forces in Iraq.
On 7 September, two US troops were killed and nine wounded in an incident at an Iraqi military base. The incident is under investigation by Iraqi and US forces, but it is believed that an Iraqi soldier opened fire on US forces.
On 8 September, the U.S. Army announced the arrival in Iraq of the first specifically-designated Advise and Assist Brigade, the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment. It was announced that the unit would assume responsibilities in five southern provinces. From 10–13 September, Second Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division fought Iraqi insurgents near Diyala.
Wikileaks disclosed 391,832 classified U.S. military documents on the Iraq War. Approximately, 58 people were killed with another 40 wounded in an attack on the Sayidat al‑Nejat church, a Chaldean Catholic church in Baghdad. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq organization.
Coordinated attacks in primarily Shia areas struck throughout Baghdad on 2 November, killing approximately 113 and wounding 250 with around 17 bombs.
Iraqi security forces transition towards self-reliance
Preparing to buy $13 billion worth of American arms, the Iraq Defense Ministry intends to transform the country’s degraded conventional forces into a state-of-the-art military and become among the world’s biggest customers for American military arms and equipment. Part of the planned purchase includes 140 M1 Abrams main battle tanks. Iraqi crews have already begun training on them. In addition to the $13 billion purchase, the Iraqis have requested 18 F-16 Fighting Falcons as part of a $4.2 billion program that also includes aircraft training and maintenance, AIM‑9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, laser-guided bombs and reconnaissance equipment. If approved by Congress, the first aircraft could arrive in spring 2013. Under the plan, the first 10 pilots would be trained in the United States.
The Iraqi navy also inaugurated U.S.‑built Swift Class patrol boat at Umm Qasr, Iraq’s main port at the northern end of the gulf. Iraq is to take delivery of 14 more of these $20 million, 50‑foot craft before U.S. forces depart. The high-speed vessels’ main mission will be to protect the oil terminals at al‑Basra and Khor al-Amiya through which some 1.7 million barrels a day are loaded into tankers for export. Two U.S.‑built offshore support vessels, each costing $70 million, were expected to be delivered in 2011.
The United States Department of Defense had issued notification of an additional $100 million proposed sales of arms from the US to Iraq. General Dynamics is to be the prime contractor on a $36 million deal for the supply of ammunition for Iraq’s Abrams M1 A1 tanks. The sale consists of: 14,010 TP-T M831A1 120mm Cartridges; 16,110 TPCSDS-T M865 120mm Cartridges; and 3,510 HEAT-MP-T M830A1 120mm Cartridges. Raytheon is proposed as the prime contractor for a $68 million package of “Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Systems”.
UN lifts restrictions on Iraq
In a move to legitimize the existing Iraqi government, the United Nations lifted the Saddam Hussein-era UN restrictions on Iraq. These included allowing Iraq to have a civilian nuclear program, permitting the participation of Iraq in international nuclear and chemical weapons treaties, as well as returning control of Iraq’s oil and gas revenue to the government and ending the Oil-for-Food Programme.
2011: U.S. withdrawal
Muqtada al-Sadr returned to Iraq in the holy city of Najaf to lead the Sadrist movement after being in exile since 2007.
On 15 January 2011, three U.S. troops were killed in Iraq. One of the troops was killed on a military operation in central Iraq, while the other two troops were deliberately shot by one or two Iraqi soldiers during a training exercise.
On 6 June, five U.S. troops were killed in an apparent rocket attack on Camp Victory, located near Baghdad International Airport. A sixth soldier, who was wounded in the attack, died 10 days later of his wounds.
On 29 June, three U.S. troops were killed in a rocket attack on a U.S. base located near the border with Iran. It was speculated that the militant group responsible for the attack was the same one which attacked Camp Victory just over three weeks before. With the three deaths, June 2011, became the bloodiest month in Iraq for the U.S. military since June 2009, with 15 U.S. soldiers killed, only one of them outside combat.
In September, Iraq signed a contract to buy 18 Lockheed Martin F-16 warplanes, becoming the 26th nation to operate the F-16. Because of windfall profits from oil, the Iraqi government is planning to double this originally planned 18, to 36 F-16s. Iraq is relying on the U.S. military for air support as it rebuilds its forces and battles a stubborn Islamist insurgency.
With the collapse of the discussions about extending the stay of any U.S. troops beyond 2011, where they would not be granted any immunity from the Iraqi government, on 21 October 2011, President Obama announced at a White House press conference that all remaining U.S. troops and trainers would leave Iraq by the end of the year as previously scheduled, bringing the U.S. mission in Iraq to an end. The last American soldier to die in Iraq before the withdrawal was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on 14 November.
In November 2011, the U.S. Senate voted down a resolution to formally end the war by bringing its authorization by Congress to an end.
The last U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq on 18 December, although the US embassy and consulates continue to maintain a staff of more than 20,000 including USMarine Embassy Guards and between 4,000 and 5,000 private military contractors. The next day, Iraqi officials issued an arrest warrant for the Sunni Vice-President Tareq Al-Hashemi. He has been accused of involvement in assassinations and fled to the Kurdish part of Iraq.
Aftermath – post U.S.-withdrawal
Despite the elimination of a repressive single-party cult of personality state, the invasion and occupation led to sectarian violence which caused widespread displacement among Iraqi civilians. The Iraqi Red Crescent organization estimated the total internal displacement was around 2.3 million in 2008, and as many as 2 million Iraqis leaving the country. Poverty led many Iraqi women to turn to prostitution to support themselves and their families, attracting sex tourists from regional lands. The invasion led to a constitution which supported democracy as long as laws did not violate traditional Islamic principles, and a parliamentary election was held in 2005. In addition the invasion preserved the autonomy of the Kurdish region, and stability brought new economic prosperity. Because the Kurdish region is historically the most democratic area of Iraq, many Iraqi refugees from other territories fled into the Kurdish land.
Iraqi insurgency surged in the aftermath of the U.S. withdrawal. The terror campaigns have since been engaged by Iraqi, primarily radical Sunni, insurgent groups against the central government and the warfare between various factions within Iraq. The events of post U.S. withdrawal violence succeeded the previous insurgency in Iraq (prior to 18 December 2011), but have showed different patterns, raising concerns that the surging violence might slide into another civil war. Some 1,000 people were killed across Iraq within the first two months after U.S. withdrawal.
Sectarian violence continued in the first half of 2013— at least 56 people died in April when a Sunni protest in Hawija was interrupted by a government-supported helicopter raid and a series of violent incidents occurred in May. On 20 May 2013, at least 95 people died in a wave of car bomb attacks that was preceded by a car bombing on 15 May that led to 33 deaths; also, on 18 May, 76 people were killed in the Sunni areas of Baghdad. Some experts have stated that Iraq could return to the brutal sectarian conflict of 2006.
On 22 July 2013, at least five hundred convicts, most of whom were senior members of al-Qaida who had received death sentences, broke out of Iraq’s Abu Ghraib jail when comrades launched a military-style assault to free them. The attack began when a suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives into prison gates. James F. Jeffrey, the United States ambassador in Baghdad when the last American troops exited, said the assault and resulting escape “will provide seasoned leadership and a morale boost to Al Qaeda and its allies in both Iraq and Syria … it is likely to have an electrifying impact on the Sunni population in Iraq, which has been sitting on the fence.”
By mid-2014 the country was in chaos with a new government yet to be formed following national elections, and the insurgency reaching new heights. In early June 2014 the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) took over the cities of Mosul and Tikrit and said it was ready to march on Baghdad, while Iraqi Kurdish forces took control of key military installations in the major oil city of Kirkuk. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki asked his parliament to declare a state of emergency that would give him increased powers, but the lawmakers refused.
In the summer of 2014 President Obama announced the return of U.S. Forces to Iraq, but only in the form of aerial support, in an effort to halt the advance of ISIS forces, render humanitarian aid to stranded refugees and stabilize the political situation. On 14 August 2014, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki succumbed to pressure at home and abroad to step down. This paved the way for Haidar al-Abadi to take over On 19 August 2014. In what was claimed to be revenge for the aerial bombing ordered by President Obama, ISIS, which by this time had changed their name to the Islamic State, beheaded an American journalist, James Foley, who had been kidnapped two years previously. Despite U.S. bombings and breakthroughs on the political front, Iraq remained in chaos with the Islamic State consolidating its gains, and sectarian violence continuing unabated. On 22 August 2014, suspected Shia militants opened fire on a Sunni mosque during Friday prayers, killing 70 worshippers. Separately, Iraqi forces in helicopters killed 30 Sunni fighters in the town of Dhuluiya. A day later, apparently in retaliation for the attack on the mosque, three bombings across Iraq killed 35 people.
For coalition death totals see the infobox at the top right. See also Casualties of the Iraq War, which has casualty numbers for coalition nations, contractors, non-Iraqi civilians, journalists, media helpers, aid workers, and the wounded. Casualty figures, especially Iraqi ones, are highly disputed.
There have been several attempts by the media, coalition governments and others to estimate the Iraqi casualties. The table below summarizes some of these estimates and methods.
|Source||Iraqi casualties||March 2003 to …|
|Iraq Family Health Survey||151,000 violent deaths.||June 2006|
|Lancet survey||601,027 violent deaths out of 654,965 excess deaths.||June 2006|
|Opinion Research Business survey||1,033,000 violent deaths from the conflict.||August 2007|
|Iraqi Health Ministry||87,215 violent deaths per death certificates issued.
Deaths prior to January 2005 unrecorded.
Ministry estimates up to 20% more deaths are undocumented.
|January 2005 to
|Associated Press||110,600 violent deaths.
Health Ministry death certificates plus AP estimate of casualties for 2003–2004.
|Iraq Body Count||105,052–114,731 violent civilian deaths.
compiled from commercial news media, NGO and official reports.
Over 162,000 civilian and combatant deaths
|WikiLeaks. Classified Iraq war logs||109,032 violent deaths including 66,081 civilian deaths.||January 2004 to
Criticism and cost
The Bush Administration’s rationale for the Iraq War has faced heavy criticism from an array of popular and official sources both inside and outside the United States, with many U.S. citizens finding many parallels with the Vietnam War. For example, a former CIA officer described the Office of Special Plans as a group ofideologues who were dangerous to U.S. national security and a threat to world peace, and stated that the group lied and manipulated intelligence to further its agenda of removing Saddam. The Center for Public Integrity alleges that theBush administration made a total of 935 false statements between 2001 and 2003 about Iraq’s alleged threat to the United States.
Both proponents and opponents of the invasion have also criticized the prosecution of the war effort along a number of other lines. Most significantly, critics have assailed the United States and its allies for not devoting enough troops to the mission, not adequately planning for post-invasion Iraq, and for permitting and perpetrating human rights abuses. As the war has progressed, critics have also railed against the high human and financial costs.
- Legality of the invasion
- Human casualties
- Insufficient post-invasion plans, in particular inadequate troop levels (a RAND Corporation study stated that 500,000 troops would be required for success)
- Financial costs with approximately $612 billion spent as of 4/09 the CBO has estimated the total cost of the war in Iraq to US taxpayers will be around$1.9 trillion.
- Adverse effect on US-led global “war on terror“
- Damage to U.S.’ traditional alliances and influence in the region, especiallyIsrael and Saudi Arabia.
- Endangerment and ethnic cleansing of religious and ethnic minorities by insurgents
- Disruption of Iraqi oil production and related energy security concerns (the price of oil has quadrupled since 2002)
After President Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, some anti-war groups decided to stop protesting even though the war was still going on. Some of them decided to stop because they felt they should give the new President time to establish his administration, and others stopped because they believed that Obama would end the war.
The financial cost of the war has been more than £4.55 billion ($9 billion) to the UK, and over $845 billion to the US government. According to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard public finance lecturer Linda J. Bilmes it costs the United States $720 million a day to wage the Iraq war. This number takes into account the long-term health care for veterans, interest on debt and replacement of military hardware.
In March 2013, the total cost of the Iraq War was estimated to have been $1.7 trillion by the Watson Institute of International Studies at Brown University. Critics have argued that the total cost of the war to the US economy is estimated to be from $3 trillion to $6 trillion, including interest rates, by 2053.
A CNN report noted that the United States-led interim government, the Coalition Provisional Authority lasting until 2004 in Iraq had lost $8.8 billion in the Development Fund for Iraq. In June 2011, it was reported by CBS News that $6 billion in neatly packaged blocks of $100 bills was air-lifted into Iraq by the George W. Bush administration, which flew it into Baghdad aboard C‑130 military cargo planes. In total, the Times says $12 billion in cash was flown into Iraq in 21 separate flights by May 2004, all of which has disappeared. An inspector general’s report mentioned that “‘Severe inefficiencies and poor management’ by the Coalition Provisional Authority would leave no guarantee that the money was properly used”, said Stuart W. Bowen, Jr., director of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. “The CPA did not establish or implement sufficient managerial, financial and contractual controls to ensure that funds were used in a transparent manner.” Bowen told the Times the missing money may represent “the largest theft of funds in national history.”
The child Malnutrition rate rose to 28%. Some 60–70% of Iraqi children were reported to be suffering from psychological problems in 2007. Most Iraqis had no access to safe drinking water. A cholera outbreak in northern Iraq was thought to be the result of poor water quality. As many as half of Iraqi doctors left the country between 2003 and 2006. The use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus by the U.S. military has been blamed for birth defects and cancers in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. A study entitled “Birth defects in Iraq and the plausibility of environmental exposure: A review” was completed to review the impact of other war-related environmental factors on birth defects in Iraq.
As of 2011, nearly 3 million Iraqis have been displaced, with 1.3 million within the Iraq and 1.6 million in neighboring countries, mainly Jordan and Syria. More than half of Iraqi Christians have fled to neighboring countries since the start of the war.
The Foreign Policy Association reported that “Perhaps the most perplexing component of the Iraq refugee crisis…has been the inability for the United States to absorb more Iraqis following the 2003 invasion of the country. To date, the United States has granted around 84,000 Iraqis refugee status, of the more than two million global Iraqi refugees. By contrast, the United States granted asylum to more than 100,000 Vietnamese refugees during the Vietnam War.”
Human rights abuses
||This article is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (July 2013)|
Throughout the entire Iraq war, there have been human rights abuses on all sides of the conflict.
- The use of torture by Iraqi security forces.
- Iraqi police from the Interior Ministry accused of forming Death Squads and committing numerous massacres and tortures of Sunni Arabs and the police collusion with militias in Iraq have compounded the problems.
Coalition forces and private contractors
- Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse
- Haditha killings of 24 civilians (ongoing with some charges dropped)
- White phosphorus use in Iraq
- Gang-rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl and the murder of her family, inMahmoudiyah
- The torture and killing of prisoner of war, Iraqi Air Force commander, Abed Hamed Mowhoush
- The killing of Baha Mousa
- Mukaradeeb wedding party massacre where 42 civilians were allegedly killed by coalition forces.
- Planting weapons on noncombatant, unarmed Iraqis by three U.S. Marines after killing them. According to a report by The Nation, other similar acts have been witnessed by U.S. soldiers. Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War tell similar stories.[dubious ]
- Blackwater Baghdad shootings
- Allegations of beatings, electrocution, mock executions, and sexual assault by British troops were presented to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) on 12 January 2014.
- Killing over 12,000 Iraqis from January 2005 to June 2006, according to Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, giving the first official count for the victims of bombings, ambushes and other deadly attacks. The insurgents have also conducted numerous suicide attacks on the Iraqi civilian population, mostly targeting the majority Shia community. An October 2005 report fromHuman Rights Watch examines the range of civilian attacks and their purported justification.
- Attacks against civilians including children through bombing of market places and other locations reachable by suicide bombers.
- Attacks against civilians by sectarian death squads primarily during the Iraqi Civil war.
- Attacks on diplomats and diplomatic facilities including; the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003 killing the top UN representative in Iraq and 21 other UN staff members; beheading several diplomats: two Algerian diplomatic envoys Ali Belaroussi and Azzedine Belkadi, Egyptian diplomatic envoy al-Sherif, and four Russian diplomats.
- The February 2006 bombing of the al-Askari Mosque, destroying one of the holiest Shiite shrines, killing over 165 worshipers and igniting sectarian strife and reprisal killings.
- The publicised killing of several contractors; Eugene Armstrong, Jack Hensley, Kenneth Bigley, Ivaylo Kepov and Georgi Lazov (Bulgarian truck drivers.) Other non-military personnel murdered include: translator Kim Sun-il, Shosei Koda,Fabrizio Quattrocchi (Italian), charity worker Margaret Hassan, reconstruction engineer Nick Berg, photographer Salvatore Santoro (Italian) and supply worker Seif Adnan Kanaan (Iraqi.) Four private armed contractors, Scott Helvenston, Jerko Zovko, Wesley Batalona and Michael Teague, were killed with grenades and small arms fire, their bodies dragged from their vehicles, beaten and set ablaze. Their burned corpses were then dragged through the streets before being hung over a bridge crossing the Euphrates.
- Torture or killing of members of the New Iraqi Army, and assassination of civilians associated with the Coalition Provisional Authority, such as Fern Holland, or the Iraqi Governing Council, such as Aqila al-Hashimi and Ezzedine Salim, or other foreign civilians, such as those from Kenya.
Public opinion on the war
According to a January 2007 BBC World Service poll of more than 26,000 people in 25 countries, 73% of the global population disapproved of U.S. handling of the Iraq War. A September 2007 poll conducted by the BBC found that two-thirds of the world’s population believed the U.S. should withdraw its forces from Iraq.
In 2006 it was found that majorities in the UK and Canada believed that the war in Iraq was “unjustified” and – in the UK – were critical of their government’s support of U.S. policies in Iraq.
According to polls conducted by the Arab American Institute, four years after the invasion of Iraq, 83% of Egyptians had a negative view of the U.S. role in Iraq; 68% of Saudi Arabians had a negative view; 96% of the Jordanian population had a negative view; 70% of the population of the United Arab Emirates and 76% of the Lebanese population also described their view as negative. The Pew Global Attitudes Project reports that in 2006 majorities in the Netherlands, Germany, Jordan,France, Lebanon, Russia, China, Canada, Poland, Pakistan, Spain, Indonesia, Turkey, and Morocco believed the world was safer before the Iraq War and the toppling of Saddam, while pluralities in the United States and India believe the world is safer without Saddam Hussein.
Directly after the invasion, polling suggested that a slight majority supported the US invasion. Polls conducted between 2005 and 2007 showed 31–37% of Iraqi’s wanted US and other Coalition forces to withdraw once security was restored and that 26–35% wanted immediate withdrawal instead. Despite a majority having previously been opposed to the US presence, 60% of Iraqis opposed American troops leaving directly prior to withdrawal, with 51% saying withdrawal would have a negative effect. In 2006, a poll conducted on the Iraqi public revealed that 64% of the ones polled said Iraq was going in the right direction and 77% claimed it was worth ousting Saddam Hussein.
Relation to the Global War on Terrorism
Former President George W. Bush consistently referred to the Iraq war as “the central front in the War on Terror“, and argued that if the United States pulled out of Iraq, “terrorists will follow us here”. While other proponents of the war have regularly echoed this assertion, as the conflict has dragged on, members of the US Congress, the US public, and even US troops have questioned the connection between Iraq and the fight against anti-US terrorism. In particular, a consensus has developed among intelligence experts that the Iraq war has increased terrorism. Counterterrorism expertRohan Gunaratna frequently refers to the invasion of Iraq as a “fatal mistake”.
London’s conservative International Institute for Strategic Studies concluded in 2004 that the occupation of Iraq had become “a potent global recruitment pretext” for Mujahideen and that the invasion “galvanised” al-Qaeda and “perversely inspired insurgent violence” there. The US National Intelligence Council concluded in a January 2005 report that the war in Iraq had become a breeding ground for a new generation of terrorists; David Low, the national intelligence officer for transnational threats, indicated that the report concluded that the war in Iraq provided terrorists with “a training ground, a recruitment ground, the opportunity for enhancing technical skills … There is even, under the best scenario, over time, the likelihood that some of the jihadists who are not killed there will, in a sense, go home, wherever home is, and will therefore disperse to various other countries.” The Council’s chairman Robert Hutchings said, “At the moment, Iraq is a magnet for international terrorist activity.” And the 2006 National Intelligence Estimate, which outlined the considered judgment of all 16 US intelligence agencies, held that “The Iraq conflict has become the ’cause celebre’ for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”
Role of Saudi Arabia and non-Iraqis
Although some military intelligence analysts have concluded there is no concrete evidence, U.S. Major General Rick Lynch has claimed that Iran has provided training, weapons, money, and intelligence to Shiite insurgents in Iraq and that up to 150 Iranian intelligence agents, plus members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are believed to be active in Iraq at any given time. Lynch thinks that members of the Iranian Quds Force and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard have trained members of the Qazali terror network in explosives technology and also provided the network with arms, munitions, and military advisors. Many explosive devices, including improvised explosives (IEDs) and explosively-formed projectiles (EFPs), used by insurgents are claimed by Lynch to be Iranian-made or designed.
According to two unnamed US officials, the Pentagon is examining the possibility that the Karbala provincial headquarters raid, in which insurgents managed to infiltrate an American base, kill five US soldiers, wound three, and destroy three humvees before fleeing, was supported by Iranians. In a speech on 31 January 2007, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malikistated that Iran was supporting attacks against Coalition forces in Iraq and some Iraqis suspect that the raid may have been perpetrated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps‘s Qods Force in retaliation for the detention of five Iranian officials by U.S. forces in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil on 11 January.
Michael Weiss and Dexter Filkins have described the extensive involvement of Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Suleimani in arming and training both Sunni and Shi’ite militias in Iraq. According to Weiss, Iranian strategy was designed to prevent the Iraqi government from functioning so that Iran could exert greater control over the country under the guise of providing stability. Weiss also traced the origins of al Qaeda in Iraq, which entered Iraqi Kurdistan through Iran, to covert Iranian operations to destabilize the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein. According to a Western diplomat quoted by Filkins: “Suleimani wanted to bleed the Americans, so he invited in the jihadis, and things got out of control.” In 2011, US ambassador James Jeffrey stated that Iranian proxies were responsible for roughly one-fourth of US casualties in Iraq.