Timeline: Iraq 2003-2010Key dates and events in the conflict
Haroon Siddique and Mark Tran
The US launches air strikes on Baghdad after cruise missiles hit President Saddam Hussein’s bunkers in an assassination attempt.
The US president, George Bush, gives his “mission accomplished” speech after landing in a small plane on a US aircraft carrier in the Pacific ocean. He declares that major combat has ended.
Paul Bremer, a veteran US ambassador, is appointed Iraq’s civil administrator and charged with supervising the transition to democracy.
Saddam is captured after being found hiding underground at a farm near his home town, Tikrit. He apparently surrendered without a fight.
A suicide bomber kills at least 100 people at the offices of Kurdish political parties in Irbil during the Eid celebrations.
Four civilian contractors working for the US army are murdered and their mutilated bodies are dragged through the streets of Falluja.
An international outcry is sparked by the revelation of photos showing US guards abusing and humiliating naked Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison.
A video released online shows the beheading of Nick Berg, a US civilian held by militants who say they are avenging the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
Iyad Allawi, a secularist Shia politician in exile until the fall of Saddam, is unanimously voted in as prime minister of Iraq’s interim government.
A defiant and unrepentant Saddam makes his first appearance in court on charges of war crimes and genocide.
In the deadliest single attack on US forces since the invasion, 19 soldiers are killed when a huge explosion rips apart a mess tent at a base in Mosul.
Millions vote in the first multi-party elections for 50 years. A series of attacks across the country kills at least 36 people.
Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish politician, former guerrilla leader and co-founder of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, is sworn in as president of Iraq, reportedly upsetting Saddam, who watched the televised election.
Lynndie England, a US Private who is pictured holding a naked Iraqi prisoner on a leash at Abu Ghraib, is sentenced to three years in jail by a military court.
The Shia-led United Iraqi Alliance is announced as the winner of elections for a full-term government.
A famous gold dome at the sacred Shia al-Askari shrine in Samarra is blown up, prompting fears of reprisal attacks.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most senior Shia cleric in Iraq, sends instructions to his followers forbidding any attacks on Sunni mosques, and calls for seven days of mourning.
Nouri al-Maliki is named prime minister after Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Iraq’s first full-term postwar prime minister, is forced out after being criticised for being ineffective.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is killed in a US air strike near Baquba. He had a $25m bounty on his head.
Saddam is executed at the Khadamiyah intelligence centre in Baghdad. Mobile phone footage emerges of him being taunted at the gallows.
More than 400 people are killed as four suicide bombers detonate cars in two villages occupied by Yazidi Kurds in northern Iraq.
Guards from the US private security contractor Blackwater allegedly open fire on civilians in Baghdad, killing 17.
An inquiry into the incident by the Iraqi government later rejects the company’s claim that the US diplomatic convoy it had been guarding was bombed and ambushed, provoking the gunfire.
British forces formally hand over control of Basra to the Iraqi government in a move paving the way for a major reduction in the number of British troops in Iraq.
A motion is passed by the Iraqi parliament allowing former officials from Saddam’s Ba’ath party to return to public life.
Thousands of Turkish troops are sent across the border into northern Iraq in a major ground offensive against the Kurdish PKK rebel forces.
A roadside bomb, followed by a suicide bomb, kills 68 people at a busy shopping area in the centre of Baghdad, the second deadliest attack of the year so far.
The defence secretary, Des Browne, says a final British troop withdrawal has been postponed after fierce fighting between Iraqi security forces and Shia militia.
Senior defence source claims the last British soldiers will leave Basra by June 2009 and will be replaced by US troops.
The new US embassy in Baghdad, one of the largest and most expensive ever built, is officially opened amid heavy security.
The newly inaugurated US president, Barack Obama, announces the withdrawal of 12,000 US troops by the end of August 2010.
Up to 50,000 will stay on until the end of 2011 to advise Iraqi forces and protect US interests.
Parliament appoints Ayad al-Samarrai, of the Sunni Arab Alliance, as speaker. The post is reserved for Sunni Arabs by agreement among political leaders.
Britain officially ends combat operations in southern Iraq, handing over control of their base in Basra to US forces.
Iraqi authorities set the parliamentary election date as 30 January 2010.
US troops withdraw from Iraqi cities, leaving Iraqi forces in control of security.
The first independent inquiry into the Iraq war opens in London.
Maliki announces the formation of a new political grouping of 40 parties, called the State of Law, after a split in the broad Shia United Iraqi Alliance that won the 2005 elections.
Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as Chemical Ali, is executed for crimes against humanity in Iraq’s highest profile execution since Saddam Hussein’s hanging.
More than 60% of Iraqis vote in parliamentary elections.
Former prime minister Iyad Allawi, head of the Iraqiya Alliance, is the surprise winner of the election, but his 91 seats are insufficient to form a government. Talks begin between Allawi and Maliki on forming a new government.
Tariq Aziiz, Saddam’s former foreign minister, accuses Obama of ‘leaving Iraq to the wolves’ by pressing ahead with a withdrawal of combat troops.
Iraq’s most senior commander, Lieutenant General Babakir Zebar, warns that the army is not ready to take over responsibility from the Americans for another decade.
Iraq’s two main political blocs suspend talks on forming a government.
US combat troops leave Iraq, although 50,000 will remain to train and advise Iraqi forces.