2003 occupation of Iraq timeline

Timeline of events during 2003 occupation of Iraq, following 2003 invasion of Iraq, and relevant quotations about nature of occupation from officials.

See 2003 Iraq war timeline.

Table of contents
1 February 23, 2003
2 February 26, 2003
3 March 26, 2003
4 April 1, 2003
5 April 2, 2003
6 April 4, 2003
7 April 10, 2003
8 April 13, 2003
9 April 16, 2003
10 April 17, 2003
11 April 21, 2003
12 April 24, 2003
13 April 24, 2003
14 April 28, 2003
15 May 1, 2003
16 May 5, 2003
17 May 9, 2003
18 May 15, 2003
19 May 16, 2003
20 May 18, 2003
21 May 21, 2003
22 May 27, 2003
23 May 27, 2003
24 May 28, 2003
25 May 29, 2003
26 May 29, 2003
27 June 1, 2003
28 June 2, 2003
29 June 9, 2003
30 June 15, 2003
31 June 16, 2003
32 August 26, 2003
33 September 6, 2003
34 September 23, 2003
35 October 3, 2003
36 October 26, 2003
37 November 2, 2003
38 November 15, 2003
39 November 26, 2003
40 November 27, 2003
41 November 28, 2003
42 November 30, 2003
43 December 9, 2003
44 December 14, 2003
45 December 17, 2003

February 23, 2003

"First -- and this is really the overarching principle -- the United States seeks to liberate Iraq, not occupy Iraq . . . If the President should decide to use force, let me assure you again that the United States would be committed to liberating the people of Iraq, not becoming an occupation force".
Paul Wolfowitz
Speech to Iraqi-American Community

February 26, 2003

"The United States has no intention of determining the precise form of Iraq's new government. That choice belongs to the Iraqi people. Yet, we will ensure that one brutal dictator is not replaced by another. All Iraqis must have a voice in the new government..."
George W. Bush
Speech to the American Enterprise Institute

March 26, 2003

"We will help the Iraqi people to find the benefits and assume the duties of self-government. The form of those institutions will arise from Iraq's own culture and its own choices."
George W. Bush
Speech at MacDill AFB

"But as soon as possible, we want to have working alongside the commander an interim Iraqi authority, people representing the people of Iraq. And, as that authority grows and gets greater credibility from the people of Iraq, we want to turn over more and more responsibilities to them."
Colin Powell
Press Conference

April 1, 2003

"The goal is an Iraq that stands on its own feet and that governs itself in freedom and in unity and with respect for the rights of all its citizens. We'd like to get to that goal as quickly as possible."
Paul Wolfowitz
Interview with 60 Minutes II

April 2, 2003

"I can assure you that we all want to end this as soon as possible, so we can get on with the task of allowing the Iraqi people to form a new government."
Colin Powell
Press Conference in Belgrade

April 4, 2003

"We will leave Iraq completely in the hands of Iraqis as quickly as possible."
Condoleezza Rice
Press Briefing

QUESTION: "Mr. Secretary, could you give us an idea of your views of the interim administration (of Iraq), how quickly it might be set up..?"

SECRETARY POWELL: "We are anxious to move quickly now that the day of liberation is drawing near. I don't know when it will happen. But, certainly, we can see what's going to happen in the not-too-distant future, we hope."
Colin Powell
Press Conference

April 10, 2003

"We want to see a situation where power and responsibility is transferred as quickly as possible to the Iraqis themselves, with as much international assistance as possible ... We have no desire to occupy Iraq..."
Paul Wolfowitz
Testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee

April 13, 2003

"The task is to create an environment that is sufficiently permissive that the Iraqi people can fashion a new government. And what they will do is come together in one way or another and select an interim authority of some kind. Then that group will propose a constitution and a more permanent authority of some kind. And over some period of months, the Iraqis will have their government selected by Iraqi people."
Donald Rumsfeld
Meet the Press

"After (Gen. Jay Garner) finishes his job of restoring basic services, the interim Iraqi authority will be established. And that interim authority will be an authority of Iraqis, chosen by Iraqis. And it will be able to function as an authority in the country immediately after Gen. Garner's job is finished, which should be only a few weeks."
Ahmed Chalabi, Chairman of the Iraqi National Congress
Meet the Press

"I think what we are so proud of is governments which permit their populace to be involved in a process that provides them freedom, provides them liberty. And I think what we will see in the months and years ahead in Iraq will provide a bit of a model for how that can be done ... because, Tony, it will be the Iraqi people who decide how to do that, and they will do it on their terms."
Gen. Tommy Franks
Fox News Interview

April 16, 2003

"Soon Iraqis will be able to give us guidance about how to move forward and create an Iraqi interim authority. And that authority will begin to allow Iraqis to have sovereignty over their country and in a way that Iraqis will choose; they will create an Iraqi Government."
Marc Grossman, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs
Interview with Free Iraqi Television

April 17, 2003

"The coalition supports the formation, as soon as possible, of the Iraqi Interim Authority -- a transitional administration, run by Iraqis, until a government is established by the people of Iraq through elections. The Interim Authority should be broad-based and fully representative."
Zalmay Khalilzad, Special U.S. Envoy to Iraq
Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

April 21, 2003

"The new ruler of Iraq is going to be an Iraqi. I don't rule anything."
Gen. Jay Garner
Press Interview

April 24, 2003

"I think you'll begin to see the governmental process start next week, by the end of next week. It will have Iraqi faces on it. It will be governed by the Iraqis."
Gen. Jay Garner
Press Conference in Baghdad

April 24, 2003

"If you're suggesting, how would we feel about an Iranian-type government with a few clerics running everything in the country, the answer is: That isn't going to happen."
Donald Rumsfield
Interview with Associated Press

April 28, 2003

"As freedom takes hold in Iraq, the Iraqi people will choose their own leaders and their own government. America has no intention of imposing our form of government or our culture. Yet, we will ensure that all Iraqis have a voice in the new government..."
George W. Bush
Speech in Dearborne, Michigan

May 1, 2003

The U.S. declares major combat operations over.

May 5, 2003

"By the middle of (this) month, you'll really see a beginning of a nucleus of an Iraqi government with an Iraqi face on it that is dealing with the coalition.
Gen. Jay Garner"
Press Conference

May 9, 2003

"Soon, Iraqis from every ethnic group will choose members of an interim authority. The people of Iraq are building a free society from the ground up, and they are able to do so because the dictator and his regime are no more.
George W. Bush"
Address at the University of South Carolina

May 15, 2003

  • U.S forces launch Operation Planet X, raiding a village near the towns of Ad Dawr and Al Dur 11 miles south of Tikrit in search of fugitives from the former regime. 260 people were detained, 230 of which were released the next day. Among those captured was Gen. Mahdi Al-Duri Al-Tikrit Adil Abdallah, from the list of most-wanted Iraqi officials. Also captured were two sons of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri and five Special Security Office bodyguards.

"We will provide the conditions for Iraqis to govern themselves in the future. To that end, the Coalition Provisional Authority will work with responsible Iraqis to begin the process of establishing a government representative of all the Iraqi people."
L. Paul Bremer, Special Envoy to Iraq
Press Conference in Baghdad

"When Iraqi officials are in a position to shoulder their country's responsibilities, when they have in place the necessary political and other structures to provide food, security and the other necessities, the coalition will have a strong interest in seeing them run their own affairs."
Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy
Testimony Before the House International Relations Committee

May 16, 2003

"We are interested in the quick creation of an Iraqi interim authority and in Iraq's democracy."
Marc Grossman, Undersecretary of State
Interview with China Phoenix TV

May 18, 2003

"I've read a report in the American press about a delay (in the transitional authority). I don't know where these stories are coming from because we haven't delayed anything."
L. Paul Bremer
Remarks to Press in Mosul

May 21, 2003

"I would think we are talking about more like sometime in July to get a national conference put together."
L. Paul Bremer
Remarks to Reporters in Baghdad

May 27, 2003

"As Thomas Jefferson put it, 'we are not to expect to be translated from despotism to liberty in a featherbed.' It took time and patience, but eventually our Founders got it right -- and we hope so will the people of Iraq -- over time."
Donald Rumsfeld
Op-Ed, Wall Street Journal

May 27, 2003

"While our goal is to put functional and political authority in the hands of Iraqis as soon as possible, the Coalition Provisional Authority has the responsibility to fill the vacuum of power ... by asserting temporary authority over the country. The coalition will do so. It will not tolerate self-appointed 'leaders'."
Donald Rumsfeld
Speech to the Council on Foreign Relations

May 28, 2003

"It will be difficult for a free political life in Iraq to flourish until the conditions are set, but it is a project that we're working on."
Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense
Foreign Press Briefing

May 29, 2003

"They told us, 'Liberation now' and then they made it occupation. Bush said he was a liberator, not an occupier, and we supported the United States on this basis."
Ahmed Chalabi, Chairman of the Iraqi National Congress
Interview with Trudy Rubin, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist

May 29, 2003

QUESTION: "When do you think there might be a government in place, even a provisional government in place in Iraq?"

RUMSFELD: "I don't know."
Donald Rumsfeld
Infinity Radio Town Hall

June 1, 2003

In Azamiyah, an eastern neighborhood of Baghdad, about a dozen Iraqi fighters within the Abu Hanifa mosque shoot and toss grenades at soldiers from the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division. The attacks injure two American soldiers; the return fire kills two Iraqis.

June 2, 2003

"The CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) is going to be in charge until there is a sovereign representative, democratic Iraqi government chosen."
Anonymous CPA Official
Interview with The Washington Times

June 9, 2003

A soldier from the US 82nd Airborne Division is killed when a rocket-propelled grenade is fired at a weapons collection point in Baghdad, the ninth casualty in 14 days.

Another soldier is wounded when two men jumped out of a van and fire two rocket-propelled grenades.

June 15, 2003

The U.S. military begins Operation Desert Scorpion, a series of raids across Iraq intended to find Iraqi resistance and heavy weapons.

Two U.S. military convoys are ambushed north of Baghdad, wounding 10 soldiers and some Iraqi bystanders in a bus nearby.

June 16, 2003

11:30 pm: A sniper shoots and kills a soldier riding in a Humvee from the 1st Armored Division's 1st Brigade in Baghdad.

August 26, 2003

Bush vows 'No Retreat' from Iraq, implying no end to the occupation in the short term.

September 6, 2003

A US military plane taking off from Baghdad airport comes under attack from two surface-to-air missiles.

September 23, 2003

Gallup poll shows majority of Iraqis expect better life in 5 years. Around two-thirds of Baghdad residents state the Iraqi dictator removal was worth the hardships they've been forced to endure.

October 3, 2003

David Kay's Iraq Survey Group report finds little evidence of WMD in Iraq, although the regime did intend to develop more weapons with additional capabilities. Such plans and programs appear to have been dormant, the existence of these though were concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in 2002. Weapons inspectors in Iraq do find clandestine "network of biological laboratories" and a deadly strain of botulinum. The US-sponsored search for WMD has so far cost $300 million and is projected to cost around $600 million more.

October 26, 2003

Coalition authorities lift a nighttime curfew on Baghdad's 5 million residents that has been in place for six months since the city fell to U.S. forces. The curfew ends in time to accommodate observations of Ramadan.

November 2, 2003

  • Occupation of Iraq: In the heaviest single loss for the coalition troops since cessation of the military campaign in Iraq two US Chinook helicopters are fired on by two surface to air missiles and one crashes near Fallujah and on its way to Baghdad airport; 16 soldiers are killed and 20 wounded. [1] [1] A blast damages an oil pipeline near Kirkuk, north of Baghdad. [1]

November 15, 2003

  • The Governing Council unveils an accelerated timetable for transferring the country to Iraqi control.

November 26, 2003

November 27, 2003

November 28, 2003

  • An Airbus A-300 freighter belonging to German courier firm DHL is forced to make an emergency landing with an engine fire, after being struck by a portable shoulder-fired Russian-made SA-14 missile.

November 30, 2003

  • The US military reports killing 46 militants and wounding 18 in clashes in the central city of Samarra. The reports are later called into question as reporters interview residents of the city. Hospital staff only reports 8 dead - most or all of them civilians, including an elderly Iranian pilgrim. No bodies of dead guerillas are found.

December 9, 2003

December 14, 2003

December 17, 2003




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