A U.S. Army soldier adjusts his machine gun while securing an elementary school in the center of Baghdad, Tuesday, Nov 18, 2003. (Khalid Mohammed/AP)
Timeline: Iraq and the fall of Saddam
Last Updated April 8, 2008
July 2002: Talk of an American attack on Iraq in order to topple President Saddam Hussein heats up. Several American newspapers publish reports about military planning documents for an attack on Iraq.
August 2002: Iraq invites UN weapons inspectors to resume talks about continuing inspections. Britain dismisses the offer as simply a "game." In a televised address, Saddam says an attack against Iraq will result in a "disgraceful failure," for the "forces of evil." Iraqi opposition leaders intent on overthrowing Hussein meet with high-ranking figures in the Bush administration.
September 2002: U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair reveals an intelligence dossier that makes claims about Iraq's weapons capability.
January 2003: United Nations chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, tells reporters that "we have not found any smoking guns" in Iraq after almost two months of looking for chemical and biological weapons and the missile systems to deliver them.
March 17, 2003: Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien announces that Canada will not participate in a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
March 20, 2003: U.S. and coalition forces begin the bombardment of Iraq, beginning with air-strikes against Baghdad targets.
April 9, 2003: U.S. forces tear down a statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square in central Baghdad after storming the city.
May 1, 2003: The U.S. and U.K. announce major hostilities in Iraq have ended.
July 14, 2003: In its first official act, Iraq's governing council declares April 9, to be a national holiday.
July 22, 2003: U.S. military reports Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay are dead after a gun battle with U.S. troops.
August 2003: Scores are dead in Baghdad and Najaf after a month of bombings by insurgents.
Oct. 27, 2003: Suicide bombers kill 35 people in a coordinated series of attacks against the Baghdad headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross and three police stations.
Dec. 9, 2003: Seven months after major hostilities were declared over, the number of U.S. forces killed in combat stands at 193. 12 British forces have died in combat since May 1. More than 6,300 Iraqi military personnel have died since hostilities began.
Dec. 13: U.S. Forces find a bearded, disheveled Saddam Hussein hiding in a tiny underground bunker near his hometown of Tikrit. "Ladies and gentlemen, we got him. The tyrant is a prisoner," the chief civilian administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, tells reporters.
TIMELINE: THE CAPTURE
Saturday, Dec. 13, 2003
2:50 a.m.: Late in the morning, local time, the U.S. military receives information on Saddam Hussein's possible location near the town of Adwar, about 15 kilometres south of Tikrit, Saddam's hometown.
10:00 a.m.: About 600 coalition soldiers, including special forces, start moving towards two target areas, called "Wolverine One" and "Wolverine Two," in the early evening, local time.
12:00 noon: The soldiers move in on the two target areas, but don't find anything initially. They begin a systematic search and find a suspicious area northwest of Wolverine Two.
12:26 p.m.: Soldiers find Saddam in a tiny cellar at a farmhouse in Adwar at 8:26 p.m. local time. A U.S. spokesperson says Saddam gave up without a fight.
1:15 p.m.: Saddam is taken to a secret location and soldiers search the "spider hole" and the surrounding area. They find a pistol, two AK-47s and $750,000 US in $100 bills.
Afternoon: U.S. President George W. Bush is informed of the capture. The U.S. has not yet confirmed Saddam's identity.
Sunday, Dec. 14, 2003:
Early Morning: L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator in Iraq, calls Bush to confirm that the man they captured is Saddam.
7:00 a.m.: Bremer holds a press conference in Baghdad. "We got him," he announces, and shows video of Saddam's examination in U.S. custody.
7:15 a.m.: Prime Minister Paul Martin is informed of Saddam's capture and sends telegrams to Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to congratulate them.
9:04 a.m.: Blair comments on Saddam's capture. "Where Saddam's rule meant terror and division and brutality, let his capture bring about unity, reconciliation and peace between all the people in Iraq," he said.
12:15 p.m.: In an internationally televised speech, Bush said a "dark and painful era" is over. "Now the former dictator of Iraq will face the justice he denied to millions," he said.
(All times EST)
June 30, 2004:
Saddam Hussein and 11 members of his Baathist party, are legally handed over to the interim Iraqi government to face trial. They are not physically handed over, however, as the Iraqi government lacks facilities to detain him. Saddam and his former officials remain in custody at Camp Cropper, a U.S. military facility.
After being convicted by an Iraqi court a month earlier, Saddam Hussein is executed by hanging.
- Main page
- Surviving Combat
- Hans Blix
- Iraq's 'civil war'
- Casualties in the Iraq war
- The lives lost in Iraq
- The Iraq Study Group report
- Saddam Hussein profile
- Trying Saddam
- Timeline: Iraq and the fall of Saddam
- Timeline of Saddam's trials
- Farewell letter
- Key politicians in the government