On March 19, 2003, US President George Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq. It’s a decision which brought an onslaught of violence to the civilian population and has left the nation reeling 15 years later.
Bush declared the military invasion to depose Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and disarm the country, promising civilians that freedom was in sight. “The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of liberation is near,” he said.
While the 2003 invasion officially ended on May 1, with a declaration from Bush in front of an infamous 'Mission accomplished' banner, what ensued was 15 years of American troops on the ground and hundreds of thousands of deaths.
The US-led invasion resulted in the killing of more than 115,000 civilians, according to Iraq Body Count. However other sources, taking into account indirect deaths linked to the invasion, put this figure at 500,000.
The US was accused of committing war crimes and using chemical weapons in civilian areas. In 2010, President Barack Obama announced the US combat mission in Iraq was over. The US formally withdrew all combat troops from Iraq by December 2011.
The aftermath of the invasion, however, led to widespread sectarian violence and the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). The US responded with airstrikes aimed at the terrorists but between 2014 and 2016 more than 3,000 civilians were killed by coalition airstrikes, according to Iraq Body Count.
READ MORE: Lessons from Iraq remain unlearned 15yrs after US-led invasion
In 2016, the US dropped more than 12,000 bombs on Iraq. Iraqi and US-led forces launched an assault on Mosul in 2016, leaving 1.5 million civilians trapped in the crossfire. It was declared liberated in July 2017 with a human cost of more than 13,000 civilians and thousands more displaced.
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