Persian Gulf War, Second

(2003) International conflict that took place between Iraq and a combined force of troops from the United States and Great Britain, with smaller contingents from several other countries.

The trade embargo and weapons-inspection process that the UN imposed on Iraq following the First Persian Gulf War (1990–91) had partly fallen into abeyance by 2001. U.S. Pres. George W. Bush argued that the September 11 attacks on the U.S. in that same year highlighted the threat to U.S. security posed by hostile countries such as Iraq. Encouraged by Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the UN issued Security Council Resolution 1441 in November 2002, demanding that Iraq readmit weapons inspectors and comply with all previous resolutions. Although Iraqi did readmit inspectors, Bush and Blair declared in early 2003 (despite objections by many world leaders) that Iraq was continuing to hinder UN inspections and that it still retained proscribed weapons. On March 20, seeking no further UN resolutions, the U.S. and Britain (with token representation from other countries) launched a series of air attacks on Iraq, and a ground invasion followed. Iraqi military and paramilitary forces were rapidly defeated; on April 9 U.S. forces took control of the capital, Baghdad, and British forces completed their occupation of the southern city of Al-Basrah the same day. Within a few more days, all major cities had fallen, and by May 1 major combat operations had been completed. Guerrilla assaults on occupying forces continued thereafter, hindering Iraq's recovery.

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