Iraq War's 10th Anniversary: The Invasion

A decade ago, the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq on the premise that the country was hiding weapons of mass destruction. Despite worldwide protest and a lack of UN authorization, 200,000 thousand troops deployed into Iraq in March of 2003, following massive airstrikes. The coalition faced minimal opposition, and Baghdad quickly fell. For years after President George W. Bush's "mission accomplished" speech, the war raged on, fueled by sectarian conflicts, al Qaeda insurgencies, outside agencies, and mismanagement of the occupation. Ten years later, we look back in a three-part series. Today's entry focuses on the March 20, 2003, invasion of Iraq, and the weeks immediately following.
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1. Smoke covers Saddam Hussein's presidential palace compound during a massive US-led air raid on Baghdad, Iraq on March 21, 2003. Allied forces unleashed a devastating blitz on Baghdad, triggering giant fireballs and deafening explosions and sending huge mushroom clouds above the city center. Missiles slammed into the main palace complex of President Saddam Hussein on the bank of the Tigris River, and key government buildings.




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3. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, center, talks with elite Republican Guard officers in Baghdad, on March 1, 2003. Iraq began destroying its Al Samoud 2 missiles Saturday as ordered by the United Nations and agreed with weapons inspectors on a timetable to dismantle the entire missile program, U.N. and Iraqi officials said.




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4. Iraqi soldiers march in the courtyard of the Martyrs Monument in Baghdad, on February 16, 2003.




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5. Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq's alleged weapons programs to the United Nations Security Council in this February 5, 2003 photo.




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6. Protests against war in Iraq erupted around the world in March of 2003. This combination photo shows (from top left) large demonstrations in Madrid, New York, Jakarta, Calcutta, Rome, (2nd row) London, Berlin, Marseille, San Francisco, and Montevideo. (Credit, in same order: Reuters, AP Photo/Louis Lanzano, Reuters/Pipit Prahara, Reuters/Sucheta Das, Reuters/Giampiero Sposito, Reuters/Peter Macdiarmid, AP Photo/Franka Bruns, AP Photo/Claude Paris, AP Photo/Noah Berger, and AP Photo/Marcelo Hernandez)




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7. British Royal Air Force personnel wait in a bunker wearing full Nuclear Biological and Chemical suits after a warning of a Scud missile attack on their base in Kuwait March 20, 2003.




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8. U.S. President George W. Bush announced the start of war between the United States and Iraq during a televised address from the Oval Office, on March 19, 2003. The United States said it had began its war against Iraq just minutes after several explosions were heard over Baghdad.




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9. US Marines from the 2nd battalion/8 MAR, prepare themselves after receiving orders to cross the Iraqi border at Camp Shoup, northern Kuwait, on March 20, 2003.




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10. An explosion rocks Baghdad during air strikes on March 21, 2003. The attacks far exceeded strikes that launched the war the previous day, Reuters correspondents said.




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11. An assault convoy of trucks and armored vehicles of the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team prepare to cross into Iraq, on March 21, 2003.




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12. An aviation ordnance man observes rows of bombs on the hangar bay of the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier in the northern Gulf, on March 30, 2003. The carriers airwing flew 104 total sorties over Iraq on March 29, and dropped bombs on targets including air defense sites, a train loaded with tanks and a surface-to-air missile site.




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13. A U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber returns from a mission over Iraq, after refueling from a KC-10 plane over the Black Sea, on March 28, 2003.




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14. Palls of black smoke from raging oil fires billow over Baghdad, on March 27, 2003. The oil-filled trenches were set off by Iraqis to try and block the visibility of U.S. warplanes and missiles.




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15. Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division rest in foxholes by their convoy in a staging area in the Kuwaiti desert, on, March 21, 2003.




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16. Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf reads a message to the Iraqi people from President Saddam Hussein broadcast on Iraqi television, April 1, 2003. In the message Saddam said that jihad was a religious duty and he urged the Iraqi people to fight invading U.S. and British troops wherever they found them.




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17. An Iraqi officer is held by US Marines with India Company 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division following a gunfight at the headquarters of the Iraqi 51st and 32nd mechanized infantry divisions near Az Bayer, Iraq on March 21, 2003.




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18. Coalition forces commander U.S. Army General Tommy Franks tells reporters that the military campaign is on track during a press conference in the media center at Camp As Sayliyah, outside Doha, Qatar, on March 30, 2003.




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19. Iraqi soldiers stand together with their arms raised, silhouetted against a sky covered with black smoke as they surrender to U.S. Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit in southern Iraq, on March 21, 2003.




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20. British Household Cavalry Scimitar tanks drive past burning oil wells in Southern Iraq, on March 20, 2003.




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21. U.S. Marine Lt. Ben Reid from 1/2 Charlie Company of Task Force Tarawa waits to be medivaced after being hit with shrapnel and a machine gun round, in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, on March 23, 2003. The Marines suffered a number of deaths and casualties during gun battles throughout the city.




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22. Iraqi civilians scream for help as they are caught in the crossfire while marines from the U.S. Marine Expeditionary Unit Fox Company "Raiders" push into southern Iraq to take control of the main port of Umm Qasr on March 21, 2003.




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23. U.S. Marines from the 15 Marine Expeditionary Unit fire a shoulder-launched Javelin missile during a battle with Iraqi troops at the port in Umm Qasr, Iraq, on March 23, 2003.




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24. U.S. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division, return fire after coming upon a mortar attack during an orange sandstorm on a road south of Baghdad, on March 26, 2003.




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25. Ray Jacques reads the San Francisco Chronicle's war special section inside a Starbucks coffee shop in San Francisco, in this March 20, 2003 photo.




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26. A statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, at his palace, damaged during a U.S. led air strike in Baghdad, on March 23, 2003.




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27. Lit by Hummvee headlights, a soldier from the 3rd Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division guards Iraqis who were intercepted during dust storm on the perimeter of the division's forward base in south Central Iraq, on March 26, 2003.




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28. Two Iraqi children look through their window in New Baghdad, a suburb of Baghdad, on March 24, 2003. Oil fires burned across the city as a defense against incoming US missiles and bombs.




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29. A U.S. Army combat engineer enjoys a cigarette as he relaxes between the cities of Najaf and Karbala as another sandstorm turned the daylight orange, on March 26, 2003.




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30. A body of Iraqi man lies by the road side north of Al Nassiriyah, on March 25, 2003. More than 30 men of military age were killed on the key northern highway by an apparent U.S. air strike on the vehicles carrying the Iraqis.




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31. A British Warrior armored combat vehicle knocks over a picture of Saddam Hussein in the city of Basra, in southern Iraq, on March 24, 2003.




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32. In this image from video seen on Iraqi television on March 27, 2003, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein meets with high-ranking Ba'ath party officials.




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33. An Iraqi soldier fires his AK-47 rifle into reeds on the banks of the Tigris river in Baghdad, on March 23, 2003 after reports that U.S. or British pilots may have ejected over the city. Television reports showed Iraqi soldiers shooting into the Tigris river and in boats, apparently searching the water for pilots.




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34. U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman HM1 Richard Barnett, assigned to the 1st Marine Division, holds an Iraqi child in central Iraq, on March 29, 2003. Confused front line crossfire ripped apart an Iraqi family after local soldiers appeared to force civilians towards positions held by U.S. Marines.




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35. A U.S. Army soldier atop a Humvee armed with a heavy machine gun secures an area by a burning oil well in Iraq's vast southern Rumaila oilfields, on March 30, 2003. U.S. engineers moved through the oilfields on Sunday shutting down wellheads in an operation that could take months to complete.




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36. U.S. Marines from Lima Company, a part of a 7-th Marine Regiment, walk in front of the Martyrs Monument, during an operation to secure securing the center of Baghdad on April 9, 2003.




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37. A wounded Iraqi girl is treated by U.S. marines in central Iraq, on March 29, 2003. The four-year old girl, blood streaming from an eye wound, was screaming for her dead mother, while her father, shot in a leg, begged to be freed from the plastic wrist cuffs slapped on him by U.S. marines, so he could hug his other terrified daughter.




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38. Smoke billows from a building hit during coalition forces air raid in Baghdad, on Monday March 31, 2003.




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39. An Iraqi man comforts his 4-year-old son at a regroupment center for POWs of the 101st Airborne Division near An Najaf, Iraq in this March 31, 2003 photo. The man was seized in An Najaf with his son and the U.S. military did not want to separate father and son.




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40. The inside of the Sheraton Hotel, scene of alleged looting, in Basra, southern Iraq, on April 8, 2003.




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41. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld speaks to the press at a Pentagon briefing in Washington, April 9, 2003. Rumsfeld praised the progress of American-led forces fighting in Iraq but warned the fighting would continue and the military still needed to account for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.




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42. Kuwaiti firefighters secure a burning oil well in the Rumaila oilfields, on March 27, 2003, set ablaze by Iraqi military forces.




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43. The charred remains of dead Iraqi soldiers lay outside a bus hit by a U.S. tank shell on a highway between Baghdad's international airport and the city center, on April 7, 2003.




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44. The damaged "Al Mansur", Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's private yacht, anchored in central Basra, on April 10, 2003.




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45. Six-year-old Tyler Jordan is hugged by his mother Amanda while U.S. Army Chaplain Captain David Nott looks on during the funeral of the boy's father, United States Marine Gunnery Sgt. Philip Jordan, at Holy Family Church in Enfield, Connecticut, on April 2, 2003. Sgt. Jordan was killed during fighting outside Nasiriyah on March 23 in the early days of the U.S. led invasion of Iraq.




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46. A U.S. Marine covers the face of a statue of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein with a U.S. flag in Baghdad, on April 9, 2003. U.S. troops briefly draped an American flag over the face of a giant statue of Hussein, as they prepared to topple it in front of a crowd of Iraqis.




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47. Iraqi Kurds wave banners and U.S. and British flags in the northern Iraqi town of Dohuk, on April 9, 2003, to celebrate the arrival of U.S. led coalition forces' in Baghdad. Iraqi Kurds shouted for joy and fired in the air on Wednesday after U.S. forces entered Baghdad. "It's all over in Baghdad," said 29-year-old Rafiq Baway, who heard the news on satellite TV in the city of Sulaimaniya. He believed it would lead to the fall of Kirkuk, the northern oil hub where Kurds accuse Saddam of expelling Kurdish inhabitants and replacing them with Arabs.




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48. U.S. Marine helicopters patrol the skies over Baghdad, on April 13, 2003.




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49. President Bush gives a thumbs-up sign after declaring the end of major combat in Iraq as he speaks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln off the California coast, on May 1, 2003.




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50. Smoke from burning oil fires set ablaze by Iraqis as a shield against incoming missiles and air raids obscures Baghdad, on April 1, 2003.