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Iraq timeline: Key events since 2003 invasion

Wednesday - 4/30/2014, 7:05am  ET

An Iraqi man casts his vote at a polling center in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, April 30, 2014. A key election for a new Iraqi parliament was underway on Wednesday amid a massive security operation as the country continued to slide deeper into sectarian violence more than two years after U.S. forces left the country. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

The Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) -- A timeline of key events in Iraq, beginning with the 2003 U.S.-led invasion up to April 30 national elections. More than 22 million voters will be eligible to cast their ballots to choose 328 lawmakers out of more than 9,000 candidates in the first nationwide elections since the U.S. army withdrawal in 2011.


March 20: The U.S.-led invasion is launched and Baghdad is attacked with missiles and bombs in a failed attempt to kill Saddam Hussein.

April 9: American troops storm Baghdad and the statue of Saddam is toppled in Firdous Square in a symbolic collapse of his regime.

May 1: President George W. Bush declares an end to major combat operations.

July 22: Saddam's sons Oday and Qusay are killed by gunfire in the northern city of Mosul.

Aug 7: A car bomb strikes the Jordanian embassy, the first such attack of the war. Twelve days later, a truck bomb demolishes the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, killing top U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others.

Aug. 29: Bomb at Najaf Imam Ali shrine kills more than 85 people, including Shiite leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim.

Sep. 3: U.S. announces an Iraqi administration largely made up of Iraqi exiles who opposed Saddam.

Dec. 13: Saddam is captured in an underground hideout near Tikrit.



Feb. 1: Two suicide bombers attack Kurdish political offices in Irbil, killing 117 people and injuring 133.

March 2: Multiple explosions rock Baghdad and Karbala at the climax of a Shiite festival, killing nearly 200 people in the deadliest attack so far.

March 8: Iraqi Governing Council approves an interim constitution.

March 31: Four Blackwater security contractors are ambushed and killed in Fallujah, setting off the first battle for the insurgent-dominated city west of Baghdad.

April 4: Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr launch attacks across southern Iraq after the U.S. tries to close his newspaper. Fighting rages until the end of August.

April 18: U.S. announces an investigation into abuses against detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison as gruesome photos emerge showing Iraqi prisoners humiliated.

May 17: The head of the Iraqi Governing Council, Ezzedine Salim, is killed in suicide attack near the entrance to the Green Zone.

May 19: U.S. jets mistakenly bomb a wedding party in western Iraq, killing 42 people, including women and children.

June 28: The U.S. transfers sovereignty to the Iraqis but retains most of the real power. The civilian head of the occupation authority, L. Paul Bremer, leaves the country.

July 1: Trial of Saddam, with the ousted leader appearing at his first hearing.

Sept. 30: A car bomb strikes American troops handing out candy to children, killing up to 35 children.

Oct. 6: U.S. arms inspector finds no evidence Saddam's regime produced weapons of mass destruction.

Nov. 7: U.S. soldiers and Marines launch the biggest attack of the war to date to seize the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.

Dec. 21: A bomb kills 22 people, including 18 Americans, at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul.



Jan. 26: A helicopter crashes in western Iraq, killing 31 Americans.

Jan. 30: Iraqis select a new parliament in the first elections since the fall of Saddam. Shiite and Kurdish parties take an overwhelming majority after Sunnis largely boycott the vote.

Feb. 28: A vehicle bomb kills 127 people in Hillah.

March 4: Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena is freed by Italian intelligence but the rescuing agent is killed when U.S. troops fire on their vehicle en route to Baghdad airport.

Aug. 28: An Iraqi commission submits a draft constitution to parliament.

Aug. 31: Rumors of a suicide bomber panics Shiite marchers in a religious procession at a Baghdad bridge and nearly 1,000 people reportedly die in the stampede.

Sept. 14: A series of bombings kills 160 people in Baghdad in a dramatic escalation of the insurgency.

Oct. 15: Iraqis approve the new constitution in a referendum.

Oct. 24: The Palestine and Sheraton hotels, favored by Western journalists, are struck by multiple truck bombs.

Nov. 19: U.S. troops kill 24 people, including 15 noncombatants, in Haditha after an insurgent attack.

Dec. 15: Iraqis choose a new parliament in the first election under the new constitution.



Feb. 22: Sunni militants bomb the Shiite Golden Dome shrine in Samarra, triggering a wave of sectarian violence that brings Iraq to the brink of civil war.

May 20: Nouri al-Maliki is sworn in as prime minister.

June 7: The leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is killed in a U.S. airstrike northeast of Baghdad.

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