- Title: FILE: SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF U.S.-LED WAR IN IRAQ
- Date: 6th April 2014
- Summary: AIRBASE NEAR THE IRAQ BORDER, KUWAIT (FILE - MARCH 20, 2003) (REUTERS) U.S. MARINES SITTING IN TRENCH, WEARING GAS MASKS VARIOUS OF MARINE WEARING GAS MASK
- Location: UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION, RUMAILA OIL FIELDS, SOUTHERN IRAQ / BAGHDAD, AL NASSIRIYA, IRAQ / WASHINGTON D.C., AT SEA, OFF THE CALIFORNIA COAST, UNITED STATES / AIRBASE NEAR THE IRAQ BORDER, KUWAIT / UNITED NATIONS
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Conflict,International Relations,Politics,People
- Reuters ID: LVA34C6HTKSEQAQI781X4FGZJ8OX
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: The second anniversary of the start of the war in
Iraq is marked with the forming of the new government in
Baghdad. U.S. military officials and Middle East analysts
say although progress is being made against a stubborn
insurgency, it may take years.
Many thought the fighting in the war in Iraq would
be over in a matter of days, but when the U.S.-led forces
faced difficulties after a series of setbacks from
sand-storms to street fighting, others worried the war
would be a protracted one. Now that former president Saddam
Hussein is no longer in power and new elections have been
held in Iraq, we look back on the three weeks of war.
Just before dawn on March 20, 2003 (Iraqi time) air
raids signalled the beginning of the war and soon
explosions rocked the capital in a bombardment dubbed
"shock and awe" by the Pentagon. Giant fireballs, deafening
explosions and huge mushroom clouds rumbled above Baghdad.
U.S. planes also hit military targets in the northern
cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. Missiles slammed into one of
Saddam's palaces in the Iraqi capital and rained down on
other targets. Repeated explosions reddened the night sky
and shook the ground in the biggest raid of the war by far.
Speaking from the White House, U.S. President George W.
Bush went on television to address America.
"On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking
select targets of military importance to undermine Saddam
Hussein's ability to wage war. They are the opening stages
of what will be a broad and concerted campaign," Bush said.
Later in the day, Iraq retaliated by firing Scud
missiles at Kuwait, sending U.S. troops scrambling into
chemical protective suits. The missiles were not carrying
chemical or biological weapons, but it was a cautionary
drill many soldiers continued in the early stages of war.
While the Iraq people tried to get used to the reality
of war, intense diplomacy went on in the international
Facing a bitterly divided Security Council, the Bush
administration had been delaying the vote on a U.N.
resolution authorising the war. In an attempt to gain
support for the resolution, Britain offered a measure that
would include specific tests Saddam would have to meet to
show he was ready to meet disarmament demands, or face war.
France, Germany and Russia rejected this.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on all members
of the deadlocked 15-nation U.N. Security Council to work
together to break an impasse over how to ensure Iraqi
Annan also said that Prime Minister Tony Blair had
assured him this week that Britain was genuinely searching
for a way forward on Iraq that could lead to peaceful
disarmament, rather than seeking a hidden trigger for war,
as suggested by France and Russia.
"I spoke to the Prime Minister Tony Blair about this on
Monday night and he seemed very genuinely looking for a compromise and
a way forward he also indicated to me that
if, in his judgement, Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi
leadership were to meet the criteria or the tasks set and
one were to conclude that he was genuinely disarming, we
should accept it, and, of course, if he failed, then the
consequences should follow," Annan told reporters on his
way into work.
Britain proposed an informal list of tasks Iraq would
have to carry out to convince the Security Council that it
was fully committed to ridding itself of any weapons of
mass destruction, as demanded by council resolutions.
The goal of the British proposal was to attract more
support to a draft resolution backed by the United States,
Britain and Spain that would require Baghdad to demonstrate
its full commitment to disarmament by March 17.
As the Security Council remained polarised on the Iraq
crisis, Annan urged all nations to work together, warning
that the United Nations should be the forum in which crises
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell assured the world
that, after an invasion, the United States did not intend
to dictate the future of Iraq. Speaking to a Senate
Appropriations committee, he said the goal of the alliance
was to "disarm Iraq". "And, if it's done peacefully, no
invasion or military action is required." But he also said
that it is "hard to ... believing them [the Iraqi regime]
News from the northern front was also improving. One
thousand U.S. soldiers parachuted into the northern area
around Harir following Turkey's decision not to allow them
to launch a ground assault from Turkish soil. Saddam was
losing power and more and more soldiers of his army
Air raids on Baghdad continued. Iraqi state television
headquarters was among the buildings hit, but it remained
on air, broadcasting pictures of Saddam with his son Qusay.
It was not clear when or where the pictures were shot. And
it would be one of many such broadcasts throughout the war.
On March 26, a busy market in the northern part of the
city was hit after a bout of raids, killing 14 people.
Without directly admitting responsibility for the attack, a
U.S. military spokesman said coalition aircraft had
attacked missiles and launchers in a residential area of
Baghdad at around the time of the explosion. Two days
later, an even bigger tragedy: another market was hit and,
this time, 62 people were killed and dozens were wounded in
the Shula district of Baghdad. U.S. military officials
denied that it targeted civilian neighbourhoods and said
the market could have been hit by anti-aircraft fire. At
Central Command in Qatar officials said they were checking
whether its forces were responsible. For Iraqis, anger at
the war was growing and protests took place in many
countries, even in the United States. The support seemed to
But, to boost the morale of the troops, U.S Secretary
of Defence Donald Rumsfeld made a surprise visit to Iraq,
travelling unannounced and under tight security.
The alliance advanced on the capital and, on the
morning of April 7, U.S. tanks smashed into the main
presidential complex in central Baghdad, taking the war to
oust Saddam to the very heart of the city. Heavy battles
were fought around the Tigris river and coalition forces
called in air power for support.
On Tuesday April 8, two journalists were killed, among
them Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk, when a U.S. tank
fired a shell at the Palestine Hotel, the base for many of
the foreign media in the Iraqi capital. The campaign in
Iraq - from the the public relation side - did not seem to
be going well.
But then, the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch hit the
headlines. The 19-year-old was rescued from a hospital
where she had been held since her maintenance convoy was
ambushed on March 23. Lynch had two broken legs and a
broken arm. She was saved when allied special forces staged
a decoy attack to cover the rescue.
On of the most visible faces of the Iraqi regime was
Iraq's Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, who
was better known under the name of 'Chemical Ali'. Despite
the sounds of gun-fire and the smoke of artillery, al-Sahaf
remained adamant that the U.S. forces were not invading the
"As usual, we will slaughter them all. Those invaders,
their tombs will be here in Iraq," he said.
As if to prove Saddam has lost his power, people gathered around
e massive bronze monument of Saddam
Hussein in the central Shahid Square and began chipping
away at the plinth. U.S. soldiers drove a tank to the
plinth and one soldier put a U.S. flag over the statue's
face of Saddam. Then, as the crowds cheered, the statue was
From the deck of a U.S. aircraft carrier off the
California coast, U.S. President George W. Bush declared
major combat in Iraq over and called the six-week war "one
victory" in the campaign against terror.
After a dramatic cable-assisted landing on the USS
Abraham Lincoln, which was heading home with its crew of
more than 5,000 from the longest deployment in three
decades, Bush said the United States and its allies had won
"Major combat operations in Iraq have ended," Bush said
in a televised address from the carrier.
"In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our
allies have prevailed," Bush said under the roaring cheer
of the U.S. troops.
But the conflict in Iraq was, at the beginning of May
2003, far from over. The discovery and subsequent arrest of
Saddam Hussein, the turmoil in the country with violence
and kidnappings, and the election for the new Iraqi
National Assembly kept the conflict in Iraq well in the
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