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The Iraq War was a protracted armed conflict that began with the 2003 invasion of Iraq by a United States-led coalition, which toppled the government of Saddam Hussein. The conflict continued for much of the next decade as an insurgency emerged to oppose the occupying forces and the post-invasion Iraqi government. An estimated 151,000 to 600,000 or more Iraqis were killed in the first 3–4 years of conflict. The United States officially withdrew from the country in 2011 but left private security contractors in its place to continue the war. It again became re-involved in 2014 at the head of a new coalition; the insurgency and many dimensions of the civil armed conflict continue.

Iraq War
Part of the War on Terror
Iraq War montage.png
Clockwise from top: U.S. troops at Uday and Qusay Hussein's hideout; insurgents in northern Iraq; an Iraqi insurgent firing a MANPADS; the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue in Firdos Square.
Date 20 March 2003 (2003-03-20) – 18 December 2011 (2011-12-18)
(8 years, 8 months and 28 days)
Location Iraq
  • Invasion and occupation of Iraq
  • Overthrow of Ba'ath Party government and execution of Saddam Hussein
  • Iraqi insurgency, emergence of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and civil war
  • Subsequent reduction in violence and depletion of al-Qaeda in Iraq
  • Establishment of democratic elections and formation of new Shia led government
  • Withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011
  • Stronger Iranian influence in Iraq
  • Escalation of sectarian insurgency after U.S. withdrawal leading to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the successor of al-Qaeda in Iraq

Invasion phase (2003)
 United States
 United Kingdom

support from:


Invasion phase (2003)

Ba'athist Iraq

 United States
 United Kingdom
New Iraqi government

supported by:
Iran Iran

 Iraqi Kurdistan

Post-invasion (2003–11)
Iraqi Regional Branch

  • Logo of the Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation.png Supreme Command for Jihad and Liberation
  • Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order

Sunni insurgents

Shia insurgents

supported by:
Iran Iran

Commanders and leaders
Ayad Allawi
Ibrahim al-Jaafari
Nouri al-Maliki
Ricardo Sanchez
George W. Casey, Jr.
David Petraeus
Raymond T. Odierno
Lloyd Austin
George W. Bush
Tommy Franks
Barack Obama
Tony Blair
Gordon Brown
David Cameron
John Howard

Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Aleksander Kwaśniewski

Ba'ath Party
Saddam Hussein  Skull and crossbones.svg
Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri

Sunni insurgency
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi 
Abu Ayyub al-Masri 
Abu Omar al-Baghdadi 
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Islamic Army of Iraq (emblem).png Ishmael Jubouri
Abu Abdullah al-Shafi'i 

Shia insurgency
Muqtada al-Sadr
Shiism arabic blue.svg Abu Deraa
Qais al-Khazali
Akram al-Kabi


Invasion forces
 United States: 192,000
 United Kingdom: 45,000
 Australia: 2,000
 Poland: 194
Iraqi Kurdistan Peshmerga: 70,000

Coalition forces
176,000 at peak
United States Forces – Iraq
112,000 at activation
Security contractors 6,000–7,000
Iraqi security forces
Awakening militias
≈103,000 (2008)

Iraqi Kurdistan

Coat of arms (emblem) of Iraq 1991-2004.svg Iraqi Armed Forces: 375,000
Iraqi Republican Guard Symbol.svg