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Iraq War

History >> US History 1900 to Present

Tanks with Victory Arch in background
US Tanks in Baghdad
by Technical Sergeant John L. Houghton, Jr.
United States Air Force
The Iraq War was fought between Iraq and a group of countries led by the United States and the United Kingdom. It began on March 20, 2003 and ended on December 18, 2011. The war resulted in the toppling of the Iraqi government led by Saddam Hussein.

Leading up to the War

In 1990, Iraq invaded the country of Kuwait and started the Gulf War. After Iraq lost the Gulf War, they had agreed to inspections by the United Nations. By the early 2000s, Iraq was refusing to allow U.N. inspectors into the country. Then 9/11 happened. The U.S. began to worry that the leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, was helping terrorists and that he was secretly developing weapons of mass destruction.

What are Weapons of Mass Destruction?

The term "Weapons of Mass Destruction", sometimes just called WMDs, are weapons that can cause harm to a lot of people. They include things like nuclear weapons, biological weapons, and chemical weapons (like poison gas).

The Invasion

On March 20, 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq. The U.S. forces were led by General Tommy Franks and the invasion was called "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Some countries allied with the U.S. including the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland. However, many members of the United Nations including France and Germany did not agree with the invasion.

Shock and Awe

The U.S. used a precision bombing attack and fast moving troops to quickly invade Iraq. This method of attack was called "shock and awe." Within a few weeks, they had taken the capital city of Baghdad. Later that year, Saddam Hussein was captured. He was put on trial by the new Iraqi government and was executed in 2006.

Coalition Occupation

The coalition forces continued to occupy Iraq for some time. The country was in disarray without Saddam and his government. Different Islamic factions fought against each other and the coalition forces for control of the country. The infrastructure (roads, government, buildings, telephone lines, etc.) of the country needed to be rebuilt.


For the next several years, different groups fought within Iraq for power against the new Iraqi government. A coalition of forces led by the United States remained in the country to maintain order and to help the new government. However, the insurgency continued.

U.S. Troops Withdraw

The Iraq War officially ended on December 18, 2011 with the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops.

ISIS and a Continuing Battle

In the next few years, an Islamic group called ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) gained power in areas of Iraq. In 2014, the U.S. sent troops back to Iraq to support the Iraqi government. As of the writing of this article (2015), U.S. troops are still in Iraq combating ISIS.

Interesting Facts About the Iraq War Activities

Works Cited

History >> US History 1900 to Present

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