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Key dates in Iraq since US invasion

2011-12-18 07:21

Baghdad - US troops left Iraq and crossed into neighbouring Kuwait on Sunday, completing their withdrawal from the country and ending an almost nine-year campaign.

Here are some key dates in the American presence in Iraq:

2003

March 20: US-led forces begin onslaught against Iraq, which they accuse of harbouring weapons of mass destruction.

April 9: US forces topple a large statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.

May 1: US President George W Bush announces the end of major combat operations using a "Mission Accomplished" banner.

October 2: US admits no weapons of mass destruction found.

October 16: UN Resolution 1511 legitimises the US-led occupation.

December 13: Saddam captured.

2004

April-August: Clashes between coalition forces and militiamen of Shiite radical leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

April 28: Photographs emerge of US forces humiliating inmates at Abu Ghraib prison.

June 28: The US-led administration hands Iraqis power.

2005

January 30: Iraqis vote in the first multi-party poll in 50 years despite deadly attacks, a poll Sunni Arabs largely boycott.

April 6-7: Jalal Talabani becomes president, the first Kurd in the post. Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shi'ite, becomes prime minister.

December 15: The conservative Shi'ite United Iraqi Alliance wins most seats in parliamentary elections.

2006

February 22: Revered Shi'ite shrine in Samarra blown up; sectarian unrest kills 450 people.

May 20: New Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki formally presents cabinet to parliament for approval.

June 7: US air strike kills al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

July: The US hands over to Iraq's security control of 18 provinces.

December 30: Saddam hanged.

2007

January 10: Bush deploys 30 000 more troops in a so-called "surge" strategy.

2008

March 23: 4 000 US soldiers dead in Iraq since invasion.

November 27: Parliament ratifies a security agreement setting the framework for a US troop presence beyond the end of the year.

2009

January 1: The US transfers control of Baghdad's high-security Green Zone.

February 27: President Barack Obama sets August 31 2010 deadline for end to US combat operations, with a total retreat by end 2011.

June 30: US forces quit urban areas.

August 19, October 25, December 8: At least 386 are killed in attacks on government buildings in Iraq.

2010

January 1: US troops rename their force "United States Forces-Iraq," from "Multi-National Forces-Iraq," after all other countries pull soldiers out.

March 7: Inconclusive second parliamentary elections unleash political crisis.

August 31: End to US combat operations, with US troops now tasked with training Iraqi forces.

November 10: Iraq's political factions seal a power-sharing deal including all sides.

December 21: Parliament gives Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government a vote of confidence.

2011

August 3: Iraq gives the green light to talks with Washington over a military training mission. Talks later break down.

August 15: At least 74 people are killed in nationwide attacks across 17 cities, claimed for the most part by al-Qaeda in Iraq.

October 21: Obama announces that US forces, numbering around 39,000, would be withdrawn by the end of the year, after a nearly nine-year campaign and 4 400 American fatalities.

November 9 - December 7: US forces hand Joint Base Balad, north of Baghdad, the Al-Assad air base in the western Anbar province, and the Victory Base Complex near Baghdad over to Iraqi control.

December 11: Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki travels to Washington, looking to open a new chapter with the United States after the protracted war left deep wounds.

December 15: US forces in Iraq hold a "casing of the colours" ceremony, marking a formal end to their mission in the country.

December 18: The last US troops cross into Kuwait from Iraq, completing the withdrawal. Just 157 soldiers, assigned with training Iraqi forces, remain at the US embassy, along with a small contingent of Marines responsible for the diplomatic mission's security.