A short History of the Conflict
Following long term diplomatic pressure on Iraq to abide by UN resolutions and twelve years of Allied air patrols over Iraq, including numerous incidents.
Following events in other parts of the world, the fear of weapons of mass destruction being spread drove the US and UK governments to increase the pressure on Iraq. Iraq did not respond well, and in the following months proved intractable and eventually diplomatic efforts failed. The UN Security Council proved unwilling to act, the Coalition attacked Iraq with forces gathered in Kuwait and other friendly states in the Middle East.
The war began on 20th March 2003 with an opportunistic strike at the leadership of Iraq, F-117s struck at a target in Baghdad but missed the leadership.
This was followed by a massive aerial bombardment on Baghdad and Iraqi military units. Launching from Kuwait and Nay ships in the Gulf, US marines stormed Umm Qasr and Royal Marines landed on the Al Faw peninsula. The primary US lunge strikes north towards Baghdad, meeting fierce resistance at Najaf.
An RAF Tornado is shot down by a US patriot missile on 23rd March, killing both crewmen.
On 25th March, a vast sandstorm stalled military operations and grounded virtually all air support save for one USN carrier which managed to avoid the storms and provided air support for the coalition ground forces.
On 27th March, British challenger
2 tanks engage Iraqi tanks near Basra destroying
14 Iraqi tanks in the largest tank battle involving British forces since
the Second World War. A USAF A-10 attacks British armoured vehicles on
the next day, killing a British Soldier.
On 3rd April, US forces overran the Saddam Hussein international airport near Baghdad. US Tanks entered Baghdad two days later, on 9th April US tanks reach the center of the city the Iraqi regime apparently having dissolved overnight. On the same day, thousands of Kurdish fighters pour into the city of Kirkuk. Widespread looting is reported in baghdad as Iraqi forces loyal to Saddam continue to fight US forces. Suicide bombers attack US forces in Baghdad as jubilant crowds tear down statues of Saddam Hussein.
The Iraqi 5th Corps accepted a brokered ceasefire near Mosul on 10th April.
US Marines entered Tikrit on the 13th April, as US engineers begin work in Baghdad to restore power and water supplies/
The remains of the Iraqi
12th Armoured Brigade surrendered at Ar Ramadi, west of Baghdad.
Australian Commandos, captured the Iraqi airbase of Al Asad which is west of Baghdad on 17th April 2003. An assortment of 51 MiG-21 and MiG-25 fighters were found either buried or camouflaged to avoid detection.
A Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 fired the Storm Shadow standoff missile in combat for the first time on 21st April 2003.
On 29th April 2003, the Ministry of Defence announced the start of force rotation in the Gulf replacing units in the Gulf with fresh troops.