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  • 1440 Daily Digest

Iraq War Anniversary

Today marks 20 years since a US-led coalition launched its ground offensive in the Iraq War, the start of a nearly nine-year occupation. The conflict would topple Saddam Hussein's pan-Arab, secular Ba'athist regime (see history) while ushering in an extended period of instability and counterinsurgency in the region.

A multinational force led by the US and joined by at least 40 other nations based the 2003 invasion on intelligence that Iraq had acquired weapons of mass destruction in addition to claims the regime was aiding terrorists in the West. Occupying forces were ultimately unable to substantiate either claim.

Estimates place the overall civilian death toll of the war between 100,000 and 500,000, with millions more displaced. At least 8,000 Americans died amid the initial invasion and subsequent occupation and counterinsurgency. Analysts estimate the war's overall cost at roughly $2.5T. Roughly 2,500 US personnel are stationed in Iraq today in mostly advisory roles.

See the conflict's history in photos here (warning—sensitive content), or check out a series of images taken by civilians with disposable cameras in 2004 and 2023 here.

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