Iraq War/Operation Iraqi Freedom
(2003-11) War in Iraq that consisted of two phases: a brief conflict in 2003 between Iraq and a combined force of troops largely from the U.S. and Great Britain; and a subsequent U.S.-led occupation of Iraq and protracted Iraqi armed insurgency against it. The trade embargo and weapons-inspection process that the UN imposed on Iraq following the Persian Gulf War (1990-91) had partly fallen into abeyance by 2001. U.S. Pres. George W. Bush argued that the September 11 attacks on the U.S. in that same year highlighted the threat to U.S. security posed by hostile countries such as Iraq. In November 2002 the UN issued Security Council Resolution 1441 demanding that Iraq readmit weapons inspectors and comply with all previous resolutions. Although inspectors did return to Iraq, Bush and Blair declared in early 2003 (despite objections by many world leaders) that Iraq was continuing to hinder UN inspections and that it still retained proscribed weapons. On March 20 the U.S. and Britain (with smaller troop contingents from other countries) launched a series of air attacks on Iraq, and a ground invasion followed. Iraqi forces were rapidly defeated, and on April 9 U.S. forces took control of the capital, Baghdad. British forces completed their occupation of the southern city of Al-Baṣrah the same day, and by May 1 the major combat operations of the invasion had been completed. However, the U.S. and other occupying forces were soon embroiled in escalating guerrilla warfare in Iraq that hindered Iraq's recovery and killed thousands of soldiers and tens of thousands of civilians. The war, long opposed by many throughout the world, also became increasingly unpopular in the U.S. Sectarian fighting and insurgent attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces peaked in 2006 and 2007. In early 2007 the U.S. implemented a strategy that came to be known as the “surge”-temporarily increasing the number of troops in Iraq by more than 20,000 in a bid to stabilize the country. By the end of the year, violence had decreased substantially, although the role of the surge in improving security remained a source of debate. In 2008 the U.S. began to gradually reduce the number of its troops in Iraq, completing its withdrawal in December 2011.
taken from Credo Reference, "Iraq War"