KWENU: Our Culture, Our Future

 

Saddam Hussein al Takrit: From palace to pit

 

APRIL 28, 1937 - Born in a village near desert town of Tikrit, north of Baghdad.

1957 - Joins underground Baath Socialist Party.

YOUNG ACTIVIST, 1957-1968

From beginnings as a young activist, Saddam Hussein rose to become a highly controlling deputy to the Iraqi president.

In 1957, Saddam Hussein, a youth from a village near Tikrit in the north of Iraq, joined the fledgling Iraqi Baath Party which expounded a socialist brand of pan-Arab nationalism.

Britain had administered Iraq under a League of Nations mandate from 1920 to 1932 and exercised strong political and military influence long afterwards. Anti-Western sentiment was strong.

The young Saddam Hussein was involved in an unsuccessful plot to assassinate Brigadier Abdel Karim Qasim, who overthrew the Brt to assassinate Brigadier Abdel Karim Qasim, who overthrew the British-installed Iraqi monarchy in 1958.

Saddam Hussein fled to Egypt after the plot against Brigadier Qasim failed, then returned when the Baath party staged a coup in 1963 - only to be jailed within months when Brigadier Qasim's former ally, Col Abd-al-Salam Muhammad Arif, seized power from the Baathists.

But Saddam Hussein escaped in 1966 and was elected assistant general secretary of the party, which then staged a successful coup in 1968.

General Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr, also from Tikrit and a relative of the 31 year-old Saddam Hussein, took power.

The two worked closely together and became the dominant force in the Baath party, with Saddam Hussein gradually outstripping the president's leadership.

 

1958 - Arrested for killing his brother-in-law, a Communist; spends six months in prison.

Oct. 7, 1959 - On Baath assassination team that ambushes Iraqi strongman Gen. Abdel-Karim Kassem in Baghdad, wounding him. Saddam, wounded in leg, flees to Syria then Egypt.

Feb. 8, 1963 - Returns from Egypt after Baath takes part in coup that overthrows and kills Kassem. Baath ousted by military in November.

July 17, 1968 - Baathists and army officers overthrow regime.

July 30, 1968 - Takes charge of internal security after Baath ousts erstwhile allies and authority passes to Revolutionary Command Council under Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, Saddam's cousin.

July 16, 1979 - Takes over as president from al-Bakr, launches massive purge of Baath.

Sept. 22, 1980 - Sends forces into Iran; war last eight years.

WAR BREAKS OUT, 1980

After the 1979 Iranian Islamic revolution, relations between Iran and Iraq deteriorated. Iraq invaded, starting a costly eight-year war.

In September 1980, Iraq responded to a series of border skirmishes with Iran by mounting a full-scale ground invasion of the oil-rich Iranian border province of Khuzestan.

By the end of the month, Iraq had abrogated its 1975 treaty with Iran and reclaimed the Iranian-controlled part of the Shatt al-Arab waterway. Both countries had started bombing campaigns.

The Iranian revolution had replaced the Western-backed Shah Reza Pahlavi with Ayatollah Raigns.

The Iranian revolution had replaced the Western-backed Shah Reza Pahlavi with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's radical Shia Islamic regime.

The Ayatollah sought to export his ideology to other Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq, where the ruling Sunni elite had long struggled to contain a restive Shia majority.

A wave of support for Ayatollah Khomeini swept Iraq's Shia community stirring up opposition which went as far as an assassination attempt on then Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz in April 1980.

Views differ, however, as to whether it was the domestic Shia unrest, the desire to defend the Middle East from Ayatollah Khomeini's radical ideology, or simply power-hungry opportunism, that led Iraq to attempt to invade its neighbour.

ISRAELI BOMBING, JUNE 1981

As fighting between Iran and Iraq raged, Israel bombed a nuclear reactor being built near Baghdad. Despite the anti-Zionism of Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamist regime, Israel backed Iran in the war.

In the 1970s, Iraq had tried to persuade France to sell it a nuclear reactor similar to the one used in the French weapons programme.

France had refused, but agreed to sell and to help build the 40 megawatt Osirak research reactor at the Tuwaitha nuclear centre near Baghdad.

Israel said that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons.

Fearing Iraq might eventually target Israel, then Prime Minister Menachem Begin sent several F-16s to bomb the Osirak reactor, reducing it to rubrmal"> The Israeli military says the raid "put the nuclear genie of Baghdad back into his bottle".

But the bombing was widely condemned at the time, even by Israel's traditional ally the US, which backed a UN resolution censuring Israel.

CHEMICAL WARFARE, 1983-1988

Iraq is known to have used the blister agent mustard gas from 1983 and the nerve gas Tabun from 1985, as it faced attacks from "human waves" of Iranian troops and poorly-trained but loyal volunteers. Tabun can kill within minutes.

In 1988 Iraq turned its chemical weapons on Iraqi Kurds in the north of the country.

Some Kurdish guerrilla forces had joined the Iranian offensive.

On 16 March 1988, Iraq dropped bombs containing mustard gas, Sarin and Tabun on the Kurdish city of Halabja.

Estimates of the number of civilians killed range from 3,200 to 5,000, with many survivors suffering long-term health problems.

Chemical weapons were also used during Iraq's "Anfal" offensive - a seven-month scorched-earth campaign in which an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 Kurdish villagers were killed or disappeared, and hundreds of villages were razed.

A UN security council statement condemning Iraq's use of chemical weapons in the war was issued in 1986, but the US and other western governments continued supporting Baghdad militarily and politically into the closing stages of the war.

 

March 28, 1988 - Uses chemical weapons against Kurdish town of Halabja, killing estimated 5,000 civilians.

WESTERN SUPPORT 1980-1988

The West's relations with Iraq warmed throughout the war, culminating in military intervention on the Iraqi side.

The West feared the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini's radical Islamism and wanted to prevent an Iranian victory.

The US removed Iraq from its list of nations supporting terrorism in 1982.

Two years later it re-established diplomatic relations, which had been severed since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Iraq's principal arms source was its long-time ally the USSR.

But several western nations, including Britain, France, and the US, also supplied weapons or military equipment to Iraq, and the US shared intelligence with Saddam Hussein's regime.

But the Iran-Contra scandal - revelations that the US had been covertly selling arms to Iran in the hope of securing the release of hostages held in Lebanon - caused friction between the US and Baghdad.

In the closing stages of the war, Iran and Iraq turned their military power on commercial oil tankers in the Gulf to sabotage each others' export profits.

US, British and French warships were sent to the Gulf, where several Kuwaiti tankers facing Iranian attacks were given US flags and military escorts.

As the "tanker war" progressed, the US warships also destroyed a number of Iranian oil platforms and - accidentally, according to Washington - shot down an Iranian airbus carrying 290 civilians.

 

TRUCE AND DEBT, 1988

On 18 July 1988, Iran accepted a UN-proposed truce, in the face of continuing - and increasingly Western-backed - Iraqi offensives.

A ceasefire came into effect a month later, on 20 August, and UN peacekeepers were sent in.

By the end of the war, neither nation's boundaries were significantly changed, but both countries felt the devastating human and economic cost of the eight-year war.

The conflict claimed an estimated total of 400,000 lives and is thought to have left another 750,000 injured. Bodies were still being found as recently as 2001.

Some estimates put the economic cost of the war to each side at more than $400bn each in damage and loss of oil revenues.

Even so, only three years later in 1991, about a month after Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Kuwait, Iraq agreed to honour its 1975 treaty with Iran.

 

Aug. 2, 1990 - Invades Kuwait.

KUWAIT INVASION, 1990

At 0200 local time on 2 August 1990, Iraqi forces poured across the border into Kuwait and took control of Kuwait City.

The comparatively small military forces of the oil-rich Gulf state were quickly overwhelmed.

The Kuwaiti ruler, Sheik Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah, fled into exile in Saudi Arabia.

Saddam Hussein claimed the Iraqi invasion was in support of a planned uprising against the Emir, but murders and abuses of Kuwaitis who resisted the occupation were common.

Several hundred foreign nationals were held as human shields at Iraqi and Kuwaiti factories and military bases, but were released before the allied campaign against Iraq.

The invasion came amid an Iraqi economic crisis stemming from post-war debt.

Saddam Hussein accused Kuwait of keeping oil prices low and pumping more than its quota from the two countries' shared oil field.

Iraq had never accepted its British-drawn borders, which established Kuwait as a separate entity.

And when Kuwait refused to waive Iraq's war debts, Saddam Hussein invaded.

The UN Security Council imposed economic sanctions and passed a series of resolutions condemning Iraq.

An international coalition was formed, hundreds of thousands of troops massed in the region.

The US put together a battle plan, with General Norman Schwarzkopf, commander-in-chief of US Central Command, at the military helm.

In November 1990, with diplomatic attempts to solve the crisis abandoned, the UN set Iraq a deadline for withdrawal from Kuwait and authorised the use of "all necessary means" to force Iraq to comply.

 

Jan. 17, 1991 - Attacked by U.S.-led coalition; Kuwait liberated in a month.

DESERT STORM, 1991

On 17 January 1991, US, British and allied planes launched a massive campaign of missile strikes and aerial bombing.

President Bush Snr declared: "We will not fail."

Saddam Hussein announced: "The mother of all battles is under way.''

Cruise missiles were used for the first time in warfare, fired from US warships in the Gulf.

Footage filmed from the missiles' noses as they homed in on their targets was transmitted across the world.

US, British and Saudi Arabian fighter planes, bombers and helicopters set out to destroy hundreds of targets.

These ranged from military headquarters and airfields, to bridges, government buildings, media outlets, communications centres and power plants.

Allied planes flew more than 116,000 sorties over the following six weeks, dropping an estimated total of 85,000 tons of bombs.

About 10% of these were so-called smart bombs, which are guided to their targets by a laser beam pointed from a second aircraft.

 

March 1991 - Crushes Shiite revolt in south and Kurd revolt in the north.

SCUD MISSILES, 1991

On Thursday 17 January, Iraq launched its first Scud missile strikes on Tel Aviv and Haifa in Israel.

Another Scud fired at US forces in Saudi Arabia was shot down by a US Patriot missile the first of many mid-air interceptions.

Israel said it would not be drawn into retaliation, relying instead on batteries of US Patriot missiles hastily stationed on its territory.

A frenzied US mission to track down and destroy an unknown number of mobile Scud launchers in Iraq began as more missiles were fired at the two countries.

The most devastating attack was on 25 February, during the ground war, when a Scud struck a building at Dhahran US base in Saudi Arabia, killing 28 US military personnel.

In total, 39 Scud missiles were fired into Israel, causing damage but few casualties.

 

CIVILIAN CASUALTIES, 1991

The civilian death toll - dubbed collateral damage by US military officials - rose as allied forces continued to fly tens of thousands of sorties.

Frightened refugees arriving at the border with Jordan reported civilian deaths and said water and electricity supplies in Baghdad had been cut off.

Controversy flared about a destroyed factory, which Iraq claimed had been a baby milk plant.

US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, said the US was sure it was a biological weapons facility.

On Wednesday 13 February, a US stealth bomber dropped two laser-guided bombs on what the allies had pinpointed as an important command and control bunker.

But it turned out to be a shelter used by Iraqi civilians during the air raids. At least 315 people were killed, 130 of them children.

Meanwhile Saddam Hussein exploited the allies' mistakes to maximum propaganda effect, and also detained more Kuwaiti civilians as human shields at key military and industrial sites in Iraq.

 

GROUND WAR, 1991

On Sunday 24 February 1991, allied forces launched a combined ground, air and sea assault which overwhelmed the Iraqi army within 100 hours.

The previous day Iraq had failed to meet a deadline for withdrawal and had set fire to hundreds of Kuwaiti oil wells.

Allied troops swept into Iraq and Kuwait from several points along the Saudi Arabian border. Hundreds of tanks raced north to take on the Iraqi Republican Guard.

More forces took control of the highway running south from Basra to Kuwait, cutting off supply lines to Iraqi troops in Kuwait as marines and Saudi-led coalition troops pushed into the emirate itself.

By 26 February, Iraq had announced it was withdrawing its forces from Kuwait, but still refused to accept all the UN resolutions passed against it.

Iraqi tanks, armoured vehicles, trucks and troops fleeing the allied onslaught formed huge queues on the main road north from Kuwait to the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

Allied forces bombed them from the air, killing thousands of troops in their vehicles in what became known as the "

An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Iraqis were killed during the ground war alone

 

April 17, 1991 - Complying with UN Resolution 687, starts providing information on weapons of mass destruction, but accused of cheating.

IRAQI CEASEFIRE, 1991

On 27 February 1991, jubilant Kuwaitis welcomed convoys of allied troops into the city.

Special forces went in first, followed by Kuwaiti troops and then US marines.

At 2100 US time, President George Bush Snr announced a ceasefire from 0400 the following day.

Allied forces across Iraq had by this time captured tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers.

Many were hungry, exhausted and demoralised and surrendered with little resistance. The US estimated that 150,000 Iraqi soldiers had deserted.

The allies had lost 148 soldiers in battle, and another 145 in deaths described as "non-battle".

Estimates of Iraqi deaths range from 60,000 to 200,000 soldiers. Heaps of Iraqi corpses were buried in mass graves in the desert.

On 2 March the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution establishing the terms of the ceasefire.

These required Iraq to end all military action, to rescind its annexation of Kuwait, to disclose information about any stored chemical and biological weapons, to release all international prisoners and accept responsibility for the casualties and damage done during its occupation of Kuwait.

The next day, Iraqi commanders accepted the ceasefire terms formally at a meeting with US military leaders in a tent at the captured Iraqi military base of Safwan.

Saddam Hussein did not attend.

 

IRAQI UPRISINGS, 1991

Almost immediately after Iraq accepted the ceasefire, uprisings began to spread from dissident areas in the north and south of the country.

Shia Muslims in Basra, Najaf and Karbala in southern Iraq took to the streets in protest against the regime.

Kurds in the north persuaded the local military to switch sides. Suleimaniyeh was the first large city to fall.

Within a week the Kurds controlled the Kurdish Autonomous Region and the nearby oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

In mid-February, President Bush Snr had called on the Iraqi people and military to "take matters into their own hands".

But the hoped for US support never came. Instead, Iraqi helicopter gunships arrived.

INDICT, a group campaigning for Iraqi leaders to be tried for war crimes, says civilians and suspected rebels were executed en masse, and hospitals, schools, mosques, shrines and columns of escaping refugees were bombed and shelled.

According to the US, which has been criticised for allowing Saddam Hussein to continue using the military helicopters, between 30,000 and 60,000 people were killed.

In the north, 1.5 million Kurds fled across the mountains into Iran and Turkey. As the harsh conditions created a humanitarian catastrophe, the UN launched Operation Provide Comfort, air-dropping aid supplies to the refugees.

ENVIRONMENTAL COST, 1991 ONWARDS

A legacy of the 1991 Gulf War was one of the world's worst ever environmental disasters.

As the allies bombed Iraq, Saddam Hussein's occupying forces opened the taps of Kuwait's oil wells, spewing some eight million barrels of oil into the Gulf.

The Iraqis also set fire to at least 600 oil wells, creating a huge black cloud of smoke over Kuwait.

It took teams led by the oil industry fire expert Red Adair at least six months to put out the blazes and cap the wells.

And 320 "oil lakes" were left in the desert, which took much of the following decade to clean up. Sea birds, coral reefs and rare turtles were all casualties.

Kuwaiti doctors also suspect the choking pall of smoke of causing a significant rise in cancers, heart disease and respiratory problems.

In Iraq, concerns have been raised about the pollution caused by the allied forces' use of ammunition and shells enhanced with depleted uranium.

Iraq claims that the radioactive dust left behind when these explode has caused a nine-fold increase in cancer near the southern city of Basra.

Some Gulf War veterans blame DU for illnesses they have suffered since returning from the Gulf.

These claims have not been proven, but even if the radioactivity is not to blame, depleted uranium is a highly toxic heavy metal and has left a legacy of pollution.

GULF WAR ILLNESSES, 1991 ONWARDS

Tens of thousands of Gulf War servicemen have reported health problems since the war.

Many of these have debilitated men who were previously very fit and healthy.

Since the first media reports about Gulf War illnesses in autumn 1991, veterans have battled for their symptoms to be recognised as a specific, Gulf War-related syndrome.

The main problems they report are chronic fatigue, headaches, confusion, joint and muscle pain, nausea, swollen glands and fevers.

The debate has been punctuated by a flurry of reports giving evidence and counter-evidence about their claims.

Some blame the vaccines soldiers were given to protect them against chemical and biological weapons.

Others point to depleted uranium weapons and organophosphate insecticides used to protect troops from mites and other insects.

Rebuttals have said statistics simply do not bear out claims that veterans have abnormally high levels of illness, or have blamed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a psychological response to trauma.

The British Ministry of Defence says that in some cases "there is a clear link with service in the Gulf", but does not recognise Gulf War Syndrome as a single medical condition.

The Pentagon says that research has "not validated any specific cause of these illnesses".

MISSING KUWAITIS, 1991 ONWARDS

About 600 people mainly Kuwaitis - have been missing since the end of the Gulf War.

They are assumed to have been detained during Iraq's invasion of Kuwait or the war itself. Most are civilians.

Iraq says it lost track of foreign prisoners during the uprising in the south of the country in March 1991.

It also says that more than 1,000 of its own nationals remain unaccounted for.

But Red Cross officials have inspected Kuwait's prisons and found only 40 Iraqis, all common criminals.

More than a decade after the war finished, families of the missing Kuwaitis are continuing to live in hope.

Eyewitness accounts have emerged from people saying they had seen some of the prisoners alive in Iraq, long after the Gulf War ended.

Kuwait has continued to campaign on the issue, but despite the efforts of an international commission and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the fate of the missing remains unknown.

 

CONTAINMENT, 1991 - 1998

The US and UK used no-fly zones on top of UN-backed economic sanctions and weapons inspections as a policy of "containment".

A UN mandate for weapons inspections was established in a resolution passed in April 1991.

The first operation by the inspections body, Unscom, took place in June, setting in train seven years of monitoring.

Many prohibited weapons and production facilities were destroyed and dismantled.

The inspectors discovered facilities that Iraqi officials had previously denied having and uncovered prohibited weapons that they had attempted to hide.

A no-fly zone in the north of Iraq was declared in March 1991 to protect Iraqi Kurds after Saddam Hussein's regime had put down their uprising.

A similar zone was established in 1992 in the south, after Iraq continued offensives against the Shia Muslims there.

British and US aircraft have patrolled these zones ever since, bombing air defences when Iraqi radar has locked onto the planes.

The northern no-fly zone was extended in 1996 following an Iraqi offensive in support of one of two Kurdish factions which were then fighting each other.

In June 1993, US President Bill Clinton ordered airstrikes on the Iraqi intelligence headquarters in response to an assassination attempt on George Bush Snr in Kuwait two months earlier.

Some of the suspects arrested in connection with the attempted car bombing reportedly confessed that they had been working for Iraqi intelligence.

OIL-FOR-FOOD, 1991-2002

Oil-for-Food was introduced by the UN to counter the impact of economic sanctions on the people of Iraq.

The sanctions came on top of damage to the country's infrastructure from the war and the effect has been devastating.

But it has been difficult to ascertain how much sanctions are responsible for the poverty and deprivation Iraqis have suffered since the Gulf War.

Unicef estimated in 1999 that child mortality in Iraq had doubled since before the Gulf War.

But reports of Iraqi children dying in poorly equipped hospitals have also been manipulated to powerful effect by Saddam Hussein.

It became clear that the elite had access to luxuries and Iraqi military spending remained high.

In 1991 the UN first offered to allow Iraq to sell a small amount of oil in return for humanitarian supplies. But it was not until the offer was increased to $2bn in 1995 that Saddam Hussein accepted.

The programme meant ordinary Iraqis had access to monthly basic food rations, although the first shipments of food did not arrive until March 1997.

In 1998, the co-ordinator of the programme, Denis Halliday, resigned, saying sanctions were bankrupt as a concept and damaged innocent people.

And his successor, Hans von Sponeck, quit his post in 2000, saying sanctions had created "a true human tragedy".

In 1999 the ceiling on the amount of oil Iraq can export was completely lifted, although strict controls remain on imports of "dual use" items which could potentially be used in the manufacture of prohibited weapons

 

Feb. 20, 1996 - Orders killing of two sons-in-law who in 1995 defected to Jordan and had just returned to Baghdad after receiving guarantees of safety.

 

 

 

 

Dec. 16, 1998 - Weapons inspectors withdrawn from Iraq. Hours later, four days of U.S.-British air and missile strikes begin as punishment for lack of co-operation.

DESERT FOX, 1998

In December 1998, the US and Britain launched a three-day bombing campaign on Iraqi targets.

The previous months had seen a mounting crisis in relations between the UN weapons inspections body, Unscom, and the Iraqi regime.

Iraq had obstructed inspectors, denying them access to so-called "presidential palaces" and refusing to co-operate.

It repeatedly accused the body of spying for the US and Israel.

The UN later acknowledged that inspectors had been passing information on to US intelligence services.

In the middle of December, Unscom chief Richard Butler reported that Iraq had continued to obstruct inspectors.

Within hours, UN staff were evacuated from Baghdad and airstrikes launched.

The official aim of the cruise missile and bombing attacks on some 100 targets across Iraq was to "degrade" Saddam Hussein's ability to produce weapons of mass destruction.

As well as facilities associated with chemical and biological weapons production, the targets included sites housing the regime's secret police and elite Republican Guard forces, airfields, air defence sites and a Basra oil refinery.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said 62 military personnel had been killed and 180 injured.

US President Bill Clinton faced criticism at home and abroad for undertaking military action at a time when he was under fire over his relations with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

 

 

Nov. 8, 2002 - Threatened with "serious consequences" if he does not disarm in UN Security Council resolution.

Nov. 27, 2002 - Allows UN experts to begin work in Iraq for first time since 1998.

 

INSPECTORS BARRED, 1998 - 2002

Within days of Operation Desert Fox, Iraq said it would not let Unscom inspectors back in.

Calls for the body to be restructured or replaced grew as the row about its role in US and other countries' intelligence gathering increased.

In June 1999, Unscom head Richard Butler stepped down as his contract ended.

Six months later, Unscom's successor body, Unmovic, was established, but Iraq refused it entry.

With no inspections in Iraq, uncertainty grew about possible new weapons programmes.

 

Dec. 7, 2002 - Delivers to United Nations declaration denying Iraq has weapons of mass destruction; later, United States says declaration is untruthful and United Nations says it is incomplete.

March 1, 2003 - United Arab Emirates, at an Arab League summit, becomes first Arab nation to propose publicly that Saddam step down.

March 7 - United States, Britain and Spain propose ordering Saddam to give up banned weapons by March 17 or face war; other nations led by France on polarised UN Security Council oppose any new resolution that would authorise military action.

March 17 - United States, Britain and Spain declare time for diplomacy over, withdraw proposed resolution. President Bush gives Saddam 48 hours to leave Iraq.

March 18 - Iraq's leadership rejects Bush's ultimatum.

March 20 - U.S. forces open war with military strike on Dora Farms, a target south of Baghdad where Saddam and his sons are said to be. Saddam appears on Iraqi television later in the day.

April 4 - Iraqi television shows video of Saddam walking a Baghdad street.

April 7 - U.S. warplanes bomb a section of the Mansour district in Baghdad where Saddam and his sons were said to be meeting.

 

SECOND WAR AND SADDAM'S DOWNFALL, 2003

In November 2002, after weeks of wrangling, the UN Security Council passed resolution 1441. It was designed to force Iraq to give up all weapons of mass destruction and threatening "serious consequences" if it did not comply. Iraq accepted the terms of the resolution and weapons inspections resumed.

In early February 2003, US Secretary of State Colin Powell told the UN that inspections were not achieving the disarmament of Iraq. The US and UK pressed for a new resolution authorising military action against Iraq. France and Russia opposed this resolution, and threatened to veto it.

The resolution never came to a vote and early on 20 March, the US-led campaign to topple Iraqi Saddam Hussein began.

President George W Bush addressed the American nation and vowed to "disarm Iraq and to free its people".

The beginning of the campaign drew a barrage of criticism from world leaders, including those of France, Russia and China. There were also massive public demonstrations against the war in major cities across the globe.

The first aerial attack on Baghdad was on a much smaller scale than had been expected for the opening of the conflict. It was thought to have been mounted at short notice when US military planners spotted an opportunity to target five members of the Iraqi regime, including Saddam Hussein and his sons, Uday and Qusay.

Ground forces invaded from Kuwait, with UK troops moving to secure key southern towns and US forces moving on towards Baghdad. They did, though, meet pockets of resistance from Iraqi troops.

As troops advanced on Baghdad, Saddam Hussein issued statements of defiance, while his officials warned that the capital would be their graveyard.

In early April, US forces reached the outskirts of Baghdad and took the international airport. Shortly after, the government of Saddam Hussein lost control over the capital. US tanks were able to drive unhindered into public squares in the centre of Baghdad and in a symbolic moment, an American armoured vehicle helped a crowd of cheering Iraqis pull down a huge statue of Saddam Hussein. The hunt was then on for the Iraqi leader, whose whereabouts remained a mystery.

President Bush declared an end to major combat operations on 1 May.

 

 

April 9 - Jubilant crowds greet U.S. troops in Baghdad, go on looting rampages, topple 40-foot statue of Saddam.

July 22 - Saddam's sons, Qusai and Odai, killed in gunbattle with U.S. troops. American forces then raid the northern city of Mosul and later say they missed Saddam "by a matter of hours."

July 27 - U.S. troops raid three farms in Tikrit. Again, officials later say they missed Saddam by 24 hours.

July 31 - Two of Saddam's daughters, Raghad and Rana, and their nine children are given asylum by Jordan's King Abdullah II.

Sept. 5 - Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno of the 4th Infantry Division says his troops have captured several of Saddam's former bodyguards in the Tikrit area in the past month and may be closing in on the deposed Iraqi leader.

Nov. 16 - The last of nine tapes attributed to Saddam Hussein since he was removed from power is released. It tells Iraqis to step up their resistance to the U.S.-led occupation, saying the United States and its allies misjudged the difficulty of occupying Iraq.

Dec. 13 - Saddam is captured at 8:30 p.m. in the town of Adwar, 10 miles south of Tikrit. He is hiding in a specially prepared "spider hole."

SADDAM HUSSEIN CAPTURED, DECEMBER 2003

On 13 December 2003, the former Iraqi president was tracked down to a hole in the ground near his hometown of Tikrit and captured in a swoop by US forces.

Within hours of receiving a tip-off, the US had positioned 600 troops ready for "Operation Red Dawn".

Intensive searches of farmland near the town of al-Dawr revealed Saddam Hussein in an underground hide-out, about six to eight feet (1.8m to 2.5m) deep, after several months on the run.

He was armed with a pistol, but surrendered without a fight and confirmed his identity to the troops.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we got him!" announced Paul Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq, prompting scenes of jubilation in many parts of the country.

Images of the former president having his unkempt hair searched for lice and his mouth inspected were televised across the world.

"In the history of Iraq, a dark and painful era is over," said US president George Bush, although he warned that it did not mean the end of violence in Iraq.

He vowed that Saddam would "face the justice he denied to millions".

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