While the US has been militarily present in Iraq for nearly nine years, some of the most compelling images of the war – which then-vice president Dick Cheney said would be over “in weeks rather than months” – were captured in the first few years.
Three months into the war, President George Bush declared the “mission accomplished” but almost a decade on, Iraq’s security and economy hang in the balance as US troops finally pull out.
Here’s a look at some images from the earlier days of the conflict:
|1) Smoke rising from explosions during the first few minutes of a massive air attack on March 21, 2003 signalled the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the fall of Baghdad [GALLO/GETTY]|
|2) Although he was still at large, the statue of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein being toppled by US marines on April 9, 2003 created one of the more iconic images of the early days of the war. Al-Firdos Square in Baghdad, where the statue once stood, is home to a green, abstract sculpture [GALLO/GETTY]|
|3) President’s Bush’s delivery of his infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech to the crew aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003 became a sticking point for critics of the war, who accused his administration of underestimating the weight of the mission it had undertaken in Iraq [Reuters]|
|4) Off duty US troops enjoy Saddam Hussein’s swimming pool at the Republican Palace – a symbol of his opulent lifestyle – in July 2003 [GALLO/GETTY]|
|5) Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein moments after his capture by US forces in a farm house outside his hometown of Tikrit on December 14, 2003. Hussein was hanged at Camp Justice, northeast of Baghdad, on December 30, 2006 [EPA]|
|6) Checkpoints have become a way of life for Iraqis – here, children watch as US troops search their family’s car for weapons during a nighttime vehicle checkpoint in Mosul[GALLO/GETTY]|
|7) An image of rage that shocked the US: Iraqis chanting anti-American slogans as charred bodies of Blackwater military contractors hang from a bridge over the Tigris river in Fallujah on 31 March 2004. The men’s convoy was attacked. They pulled out of their cars, beaten, burned then dragged through the streets and ultimately strung up from the bridge. The presence of private mercenary firms – such as Blackwater, which has now changed its name to Academi, has been highly controversial as its employees are not subject to local laws and are seen to operate with impunity[ EPA]|
|8) US Marines search a house in Fallujah during an offensive November 13, 2004. Due to an uptick in attacks against US troops in the area, US marines arrested all males between the combat age of 15 and 55-years-old, populating a biometric database with their fingerprints and iris scans [GALLO/GETTY]|
|9) A steady streak of violence left Fallujah deserted and scarred after the November 2004 offensive. US troops control of the city for a time, and ended up withdrawing by May[GALLO/GETTY]|
|10) One of a series of photos that created major controversy for the US for its treatment of Iraqi detainees, April 2004: US soldier Lynndie England holding a leash tied around the neck of a naked man in the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Charles Graner, England’s former lover and the reputed ringleader of a band of rogue guards at the prison, was condemned by a US military tribunal in Fort Hood, Texas in January of 2005 [EPA]|
|11) A city devided: Iraqis walk near a painted cement security wall in August of 2008 in the Shia district of Sadr city east of Baghdad, Iraq. The wall was constructed by both US and Iraqi army for security reasons [GALLO/GETTY]|
|12) The Shia Askariya mosque, seen here in June of 2007, remained in ruins in the city of Samarra after fighters blew up the two minarets of the Golden Dome in 2006. The 2006 bombing, said to be carried out by a group linked to al -Qaeda, is seen to have triggered a wave of sectarian violence that has claimed the lives of thousands of Iraqis [GALLO/GETTY]|