A look back at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom to US President George Bush's famous declaration of "Mission Accomplished" in 2003.
The invasion of Iraq began on the 20th March after US-led forces launched their military operation to remove Iraq's President Saddam Hussein .
Here is a timeline of the start of the conflict :
- 17 March: President Bush issues a final ultimatum to Saddam Hussein, 48 hours before the start of the war.
Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing.
- 19 March: The start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, is announced by President Bush as tells the nation that US forces are beginning their military operation in Iraq.
– US President George Bush
At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.
We will defend our freedom. We will bring freedom to others and we will prevail.
- 20 March: US-led forces invaded Iraq from Kuwait as the "Shock and Awe' campaign begun at 0534 local time (0234 GMT).
A short time after the air strikes began, Iraqi TV broadcast what it said was a live speech by Saddam Hussein.
– Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
I don't need to remind you what you should do to defend our country."Let the unbelievers go to hell, you will be victorious, Iraqi people.
Later that day, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair advised the nation that British forces were in action in Iraq.
Tonight, British servicemen and women are engaged from air, land and sea. Their mission: to remove Saddam Hussein from power, and disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.
Removing Saddam will be a blessing to the Iraqi people.....I hope the Iraqi people hear this message. We are with you. Our enemy is not you, but your barbarous rulers.
- 21 March: On day two of the mission, US and British forces launch their offensive into southern Iraq, including Basra, Iraq's second city.
- 23 March: The Battle for Nassiriya was one of the first major battles of the invasion between Iraqi forces and US marines. A lot was at stake as the city was on the way to Baghdad. The Marines eventually passed after heavy fighting.
Report by James Mates
- 27 March: Tony Blair and George Bush meet at US presidential retreat Camp David to discuss the progress of the war in Iraq and plans for the post-war reconstruction.
- 6 April: Just over two weeks after the start of the conflict, the British 7th Armoured Brigade entered Basra.
- 9 April: Less than a month after the operation began, US forces captured Baghdad, Iraq's capital city. It was a landmark moment.
- 1 May: Standing aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, President Bush declared an end to major combat in Iraq.
– US President George Bush
My fellow Americans: Major combat operations in Iraqhave ended.
Because of you our nation is more secure. Because of you the tyranthas fallen and Iraq is free
It conservatively appeared as though the war was officially over but in reality it was just beginning.