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IRAQ

 

IRAQ WAR II

 

DESERT-STORM.jpg (79292 bytes)

 

 

The Iraq War was an armed conflict in Iraq that consisted of two phases. The first was an invasion of Ba’athist Iraq by the United States and the United Kingdom, starting on 20 March 2003 It was followed by a longer phase of fighting, in which an insurgency emerged to oppose Coalition forces and the newly formed Iraqi government.The war officially ended on 18 December 2011, when the U.S. completed its withdrawal of military personnel though sectarian violence continues and has caused thousands of fatalities.Prior to the war, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom claimed that Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed a threat to their security and that of their coalition/regional allies. In 2002, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1441 which called for Iraq to completely cooperate with UN weapon inspectors to verify that Iraq was not in possession of WMD and cruise missiles. Prior to the attack, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) found no evidence of WMD, but could not yet verify the accuracy of Iraq’s declarations regarding what weapons it possessed, as their work was still unfinished. The leader of the inspectors Hans Blix estimated the time remaining for disarmament being verified through inspections to be “months”.

 thanks to wikipedia

After investigation following the invasion, the U.S.-led Iraq Survey Group concluded that Iraq had ended its nuclear, chemical and biological programs in 1991 and had no active programs at the time of the invasion, but that they intended to resume production if the Iraq sanctions were lifted. Although some degraded remnants of misplaced or abandoned chemical weapons from before 1991 were found, they were not the weapons which had been one of the main arguments for the invasion.

 

Some U.S. officials also accused Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of harboring and supporting al-Qaeda,but no evidence of a meaningful connection was ever found.[59][60] Other proclaimed reasons for the invasion included Iraq’s financial support for the families of Palestinian suicide bombers,[61] Iraqi government human rights abuses,[62] and an effort to spread democracy to the country.

 

On 16 March 2003, the U.S. government advised the U.N. inspectors to leave their unfinished work and exit from Iraq.[65] On 20 March[66] the U.S.-led coalition conducted a surprise[67] military invasion of Iraq without declaring war.[68] The invasion led to an occupation and the eventual capture of President Hussein, who was later tried in an Iraqi court of law and executed by the new Iraqi government. Violence against coalition forces and among various sectarian groups soon led to the Iraqi insurgency, strife between many Sunni and Shia Iraqi groups, and the emergence of a new faction of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.[69][70]

 

In June 2008, U.S. Department of Defense officials claimed security and economic indicators began to show signs of improvement in what they hailed as significant and fragile gains.[71] Iraq was fifth on the 2008 Failed States Index,[72] and sixth on the 2009 list.[73] As public opinion favoring troop withdrawals increased and as Iraqi forces began to take responsibility for security, member nations of the Coalition withdrew their forces.[74][75] In late 2008, the U.S. and Iraqi governments approved a Status of Forces Agreement effective through 1 January 2012.[76] The Iraqi Parliament also ratified a Strategic Framework Agreement with the U.S.,[77] aimed at ensuring cooperation in constitutional rights, threat deterrence, education,[78] energy development, and other areas.[79]

 

In late February 2009, newly elected U.S. President Barack Obama announced an 18-month withdrawal window for combat forces, with approximately 50,000 troops remaining in the country “to advise and train Iraqi security forces and to provide intelligence and surveillance”.[80][81] UK forces ended combat operations on 30 April 2009.[82] Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he supported the accelerated pullout of U.S. forces.[83] In a speech at the Oval Office on 31 August 2010 Obama declared “the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.”[84][85][86] Beginning 1 September 2010, the American operational name for its involvement in Iraq changed from “Operation Iraqi Freedom” to “Operation New Dawn”. The remaining 50,000 U.S. troops were designated as “advise and assist brigades” assigned to non-combat operations while retaining the ability to revert to combat operations as necessary. Two combat aviation brigades also remain in Iraq.[87] In September 2010, the Associated Press issued an internal memo reminding its reporters that “combat in Iraq is not over”, and “U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended”.[88][89]

 

On 21 October 2011, President Obama announced that all U.S. troops and trainers would leave Iraq by the end of the year, bringing the U.S. mission in Iraq to an end.[90] On 15 December 2011, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta officially declared the Iraq War over, at a flag lowering ceremony in Baghdad.[91] The last U.S. troops left Iraqi territory on 18 December 2011 at 4:27 UTC.[92]

 

The Iraq War is also known as the War in Iraq, the Occupation of Iraq, and the Second Gulf War (Gulf War II). It was referred to as Operation Iraqi Freedom by the United States military, from 2003 to 2010.

 

Invasion
Main articles: 2003 invasion of Iraq, 2003 in Iraq, 2003 Iraq war timeline, and List of people associated with the 2003 invasion of Iraq
See also: Coalition military operations of the Iraq War and Iraq War order of battle
Map of the invasion routes and major operations/battles of the Iraq War as of 2007.
M1 Abrams tank fires its 120mm cannon at Iraqi forces during fighting in Al-Faw peninsula near Umm Qasr, 23 March 2003.
Destroyed remains of Iraqi Tanks near Al Qadisiyah, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.The first Central Intelligence Agency invasion team entered Iraq on 10 July 2002.[131] This team was composed of members of the CIA’s Special Activities Division and was later joined by members of the U.S. military’s elite Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).[132] Together, they prepared for the invasion of conventional forces. These efforts consisted of persuading the commanders of several Iraqi military divisions to surrender rather than oppose the invasion, and to identify all of the initial leadership targets during very high risk reconnaissance missions.[132]

 

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.[132][133] 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.[131][134]

 

At 5:34 a.m. Baghdad time on 20 March 2003 (9:34 p.m., 19 March EST) the surprise[67] military invasion of Iraq began.[135] There was no declaration of war.[68] The 2003 invasion of Iraq, led by U.S. army General Tommy Franks, began under the codename “Operation Iraqi Liberation”,[136] later renamed “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 “U.S.-led coalition against Iraq,” 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 GROM sent to Kuwait for the invasion.[137] The invasion force was also supported by Iraqi Kurdish militia troops, estimated to number upwards of 70,000.[138]

 

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.”[139]

 

The invasion was a quick and decisive operation encountering major resistance, though not what the U.S., 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. This achieved some temporary successes and created unexpected challenges for the invading forces, especially the U.S. military.

 

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 Polish Special Forces unit GROM attacked the port of Umm Qasr, while the British Army’s 16 Air Assault Brigade secured the oil fields in southern Iraq. Polish commandos captured offshore oil platforms near the port, preventing their destruction.
photograph of three Marines entering a partially destroyed stone palace with a mural of Arabic script
U.S. Marines from 1st Battalion 7th Marines enter a palace during the Fall of Baghdad.
A Marine Corps M1 Abrams tank patrols a Baghdad street after its fall in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

 

The heavy armor of the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 and bypassed the city to the west in its drive up north through western Iraq.

 

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 the American 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 Badhdad to seize it.[140]

 

In the north, OIF-1 used the largest special operations force since the successful attack on the Taliban government of Afghanistan just over a year earlier. The Iraqi army was quickly overwhelmed in each engagement it faced with U.S. forces, with the elite Fedayeen Saddam putting up strong, sometimes suicidal, resistance before melting away into the civilian population.

 

On 9 April Baghdad fell, ending President Hussein’s 24-year rule. U.S. forces seized the deserted Ba’ath Party ministries and stage-managed[141] the tearing down of a huge iron statue of Hussein, 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.[142] In November 2008, Iraqi protesters staged a similar stomping on and burning of an effigy of George W. Bush.[143] 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.[144][145]

 

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, Hussein’s home town, fell with little resistance to the U.S. Marines of Task Force Tripoli and on 15 April the coalition declared the invasion effectively over.

 

In the invasion phase of the war (19 March-April 30), 9,200 Iraqi combatants were killed along with 7,299 civilians, primarily by U.S. air and ground forces.[146] Coalition forces reported the death in combat of 139 U.S. military personnel[147] and 33 UK military personnel.[148]

 

2004: Insurgency expands
Main article: 2004 in Iraq

 

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, History of Iraqi insurgency, United States occupation of Fallujah, Iraq Spring Fighting of 2004

 

Footage from the gun camera of a U.S. Apache helicopter killing Iraqi Insurgents.[157]
Coalition Provisional Authority director L. Paul Bremer signs over sovereignty to the appointed Iraqi Interim Government, 28 June 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 Army also 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 a Blackwater USA convoy led by four U.S. private military contractors who were providing security for food caterers Eurest Support Services.[158] 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.[159] 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.
US Marines fight in the city of Fallujah during Operation Phantom Fury/Operation Al Fajr (New Dawn) in November 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 in Vietnam.”[160] 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.[161]

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