Lifelife

Tue Mar 19, 2019, 09:06 PM

This day in history March 19

The 2003 invasion of Iraq was the first stage of the Iraq War (also called Operation Iraqi Freedom). The invasion phase began on 19 March 2003 and lasted just over one month, including 21 days of major combat operations, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq. This early stage of the war formally ended on 1 May 2003 when U.S. President George W. Bush declared the "End of Major Combat Operations", after which the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was established as the first of several successive transitional governments leading up to the first Iraqi parliamentary election in January 2005. U.S. military forces later remained in Iraq until the withdrawal in 2011.

The American-led coalition sent 177,194 troops into Iraq during the initial invasion phase, which lasted from 19 March to 1 May 2003. About 130,000 arrived from the U.S. alone, with about 45,000 British soldiers, 2,000 Australian soldiers, and 194 Polish soldiers. 36 other countries were involved in its aftermath. In preparation for the invasion, 100,000 U.S. troops assembled in Kuwait by 18 February. The coalition forces also received support from the Peshmerga in Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to U.S. President George W. Bush and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, the coalition aimed "to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people." Others place a much greater emphasis on the impact of the September 11 attacks, on the role this played in changing U.S. strategic calculations, and the rise of the freedom agenda. According to Blair, the trigger was Iraq's failure to take a "final opportunity" to disarm itself of alleged nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that U.S. and British officials called an immediate and intolerable threat to world peace.

In a January 2003 CBS poll, 64% of Americans had approved of military action against Iraq; however, 63% wanted Bush to find a diplomatic solution rather than go to war, and 62% believed the threat of terrorism directed against the U.S. would increase due to war. The invasion of Iraq was strongly opposed by some long-standing U.S. allies, including the governments of France, Germany, and New Zealand. Their leaders argued that there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that invading that country was not justified in the context of UNMOVIC's 12 February 2003 report. However, hundreds of chemical weapons were found in Iraq and determined to be produced before the 1991 Gulf War, from years earlier in Saddam Hussein's rule. About 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs were discovered during the Iraq War.

(Wiki)

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