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Iraq War

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(March–April 2003)

A war between US-led forces and Iraq. In the context of the USA's ongoing war on terrorism, in 2002 President George W. Bush threatened military action to remove Saddam Hussein's regime, which the USA claimed to be developing weapons of mass destruction. US forces, supported by small British and Australian contingents, invaded Iraq from Kuwait on 21 March 2003 on the grounds that Iraq had failed to cooperate with UN weapons inspectors; the UN itself, however, had not given explicit approval for such a course of action. The Iraqi army was no match for the invaders. Baghdad was taken by US forces on 9 April, and the fall of Tikrit on 14 April marked the end of the military campaign. The justice and legality of the invasion provoked much debate, not least in the participating countries, and subsequent events only increased this controversy. In particular, investigations in 2004 established that Saddam's regime had possessed neither weapons of mass destruction nor a current ability to produce them. More generally, the problems of establishing a peaceful, stable, and democratic successor regime in Iraq proved greater than anticipated, necessitating continued coalition involvement, which was increasingly unpopular, and further casualties. The coalition partners continued to justify the war on the grounds that it had removed a tyrant and spread democracy and freedom.

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