• How many were killed in the Iraq war?

Below is a history of the Invasion of Iraq, The Chilcot Inquiry and the role that Tony Blair, George W Bush and others have played in it.

To scroll directly to a specific year, please click the year below:

2002 - 2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2007 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015

2002 - Bush & Blair Commence Iraq War Propaganda

Tony Blair and George Bush - Iraq War Propaganda 2002

29 January 2002

US President George Bush identifies Iraq – along with Iran and North Korea – as an “axis of evil” in his State of the Union address

5-7 April 2002

Tony Blair visits George Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. The two hold secret talks without the presence of UK’s Ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer. 

We now know from the leaked memo of Colin Powell that during that weekend Tony Blair gives his word to Bush that the UK would support the US in the invasion of Iraq and that removal of Saddam would represent a regional success. Blair also assures Bush he would convince Parliament that war was the only option.



14 May 2002

UN Security Council revamps the 11-year-old sanctions against Iraq to introduce “smart sanctions” targeted at military equipment

5 July 2002

Talks in Vienna between the UN and Iraq break down without agreement

1 August 2002

Iraq invites Hans Blix, UN chief weapons inspector, to Baghdad as a possible step towards resumption of arms inspections

9 September 2002

Senior Adviser in Biological Defence, Dr David Kelly, is shown the dossier. He is asked to add his name to give it weight.

12 September 2002

President Bush tells world leaders at a UN General Assembly session to confront the “grave and gathering danger” of Iraq – or become “irrelevant”

16 September 2002

Iraq accepts 'unconditional’ return of UN inspectors

24 September 2002

Britain publishes dossier outlining the threat posed by Iraq. It includes the “45 minute claim” – that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that could be used against the UK within 45 minutes of him giving an order.

*We have since found out that the dossier, compiled by Blair’s Press Secretary, Alastair Campbell, was based on entirely unreliable sources combined with the thesis of a US-based Iraqi student)


16 October 2002

Iraq renews offer to UN weapons inspectors, after 'referendum’ gives Saddam another seven-year term as president with 100 per cent of the vote

8 November 2002

The UN Security Council approves Resolution 1441, a US-British resolution requiring Iraq to reinstate weapons inspectors after a four-year absence

13 November 2002

Iraq’s government accepts the UN resolution

18 November 2002

Dr Blix leads weapons inspectors back to Baghdad to relaunch search for weapons of mass destruction (WMD), backed by the UN resolution

27 November 2002

The weapons inspectors start their inspections, visiting two sites. They thank the Iraqis for their co-operation but do not comment on their findings.

2 December 2002

Britain publishes a second dossier, documenting human rights abuses in Iraq

7 December 2002

Iraq hands over a 12,000-page weapons declaration as required by resolution 1441. The document is meant to be a current and complete account of all of its chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programmes

18 December 2002

Ministry of Defence reveals that ships are being chartered to carry troops and heavy armour to the Gulf

19 December 2002

The United States accuses Baghdad of being in “material breach” of the UN resolution after Dr Blix said the Iraqi arms declaration contains little new information about its weapons of mass destruction capability

2003 - Invasion of Iraq Starts - Not In Our Name

London anti-war protest

9 January 2003

Dr Blix tells the Security Council that there are still “many unanswered questions” about Iraq’s weapons programmes but that inspectors had not “found any smoking guns” that might trigger war

11 January 2003

A British naval task force leaves for the Gulf headed by the HMS Ark Royal aircraft carrier

16 January 2003

UN weapons inspectors find 12 warheads designed to carry chemical weapons. The inspectors believe the warheads were not accounted for in Iraq’s 12,000 page submission. Washington described the warheads as a “smouldering, not smoking gun”

27 January 2003

UN inspectors present evidence to the Security Council about their search for WMD and Iraqi co-operation with resolution 1441. The report is seized on by the US and UK as proof that Iraq is not disarming, while other states and Dr Blix argue that the inspectors need to be given more time

29 January 2003

In his State of the Union address, President Bush announces that he is ready to attack Iraq, even without a UN mandate

(Documents later released to the Chilcot Inquiry show that the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, cautioned Mr Blair: "My view remains that a further [UN] decision is required". Mr Blair wrote in the margin of the note: "I just don't understand this.")

31 January 2003

Mr Blair tells Mr Bush at a meeting in Washington that he is "solidly with the President", according to Downing Street documents that were later leaked.

14 February 2003

Dr Blix reports to the UN again. He says Iraq must do more to prove it has no WMD

Dr. David Kelly tells a British diplomat there had been “a lot of pressure on him” to make the dossier robust on WMD readiness. Kelly tells the diplomat if Iraq is invaded , “I will probably be found dead in the woods.”

15 February 2003

Over a million people show up to the largest anti-war demonstration ever held in the UK and is repeated in other cities around the world

24 February 2003

The US, Great Britain and Spain submit a proposed resolution to UN Security Council stating Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity afforded to it in Resolution 1441

26 February 2003

Mr Blair suffers parliamentary rebellion over handling of the crisis when 121 Labour MPs vote against him

4 March 2003

Gordon Brown, the chancellor, makes clear his support for war by saying he is prepared to 'spend what it takes’ to disarm Iraq

5 March 2003

Foreign ministers of France, Russia and Germany release joint declaration stating that they will 'not allow’ a resolution authorizing military action to pass the UN security council

7 March 2003

Dr Blix reports that Iraq has accelerated its co-operation but says inspectors need more time to verify Iraq’s compliance

10 March 2003

France and Russia announce that they are ready to veto a new UN resolution that gives Iraq seven days to disarm. French President Jacques Chirac says his country would vote against any resolution that contained an ultimatum leading to war until the weapons inspectors in Iraq said they could do no more

16 March 2003

President Bush, Tony Blair and the Spanish Premier Jose Maria Aznar meet in the Azores. They set a deadline of the end of Monday 17 March for the Security Council to back the US/UK resolution demanding immediate Iraqi disarmament. George Bush called it a “moment of truth for the world”

17 March 2003

UK’s ambassador to the UN says the diplomatic process on Iraq has ended and announces the withdrawal of a draft resolution co-sponsored by the US and Spain;  The arms inspectors evacuate Iraq.

After his initial assessment that any invasion of Iraq would be illegal Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, now confirms, in a written parliamentary statement that war against Iraq would be legal on the grounds of existing UN resolutions.

18 March 2003

Following Tony Blair’s address to Parliament about the threat posed by leaving Saddam Hussein in power, there follows two votes giving Blair the mandate to join the US in the invasion of Iraq.

Robin Cook, leader of the House of Commons, resigns from cabinet, firmly against the invasion.

President Bush gives Saddam and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war

20 March 2003

Invasion of Iraq begins.

9 April 2003

Baghdad falls to US forces

2 May 2003

President Bush declares victory in Iraq in speech on board the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

6 May 2003

Paul Bremer, a diplomat and former head of counter terrorism at the US State Department, is appointed as top civilian administrator in Iraq. He is also given authority over Jay Garner, the retired general who had been in charge of reconstruction efforts

22 May 2003

UN Security Council backs US-led administration in Iraq and lifts economic sanctions.

Dr. David Kelly meets journalist Andrew Gilligan and tells him the dossier was “transformed a week before publication to make it sexier – the classic was the 45mins claim” which was added afterwards.

23 May 2003

Bremer abolishes ministries and institutions that formed the backbone of Saddam’s power structure

29 May 2003

Andrew Gilligan broadcasts the “sexed up” dossier report on BBC Radio 4. An hour later Downing Street issues a rebuttal.

25 June 2003

Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s Press Secretary and spin doctor, tells Foreign Affairs Select Committee the Gilligan story “is a lie” and he demands an apology.

5 July 2003

Kelly goes for a walk with his daughter, Rachel. She asks him if the row with Alastair Campbell and the BBC is affecting his work. “He seemed to have the world’s pressure on his shoulders,” she said later.

9 July 2003

BBC admits Gilligan met Kelly on May 22. That evening, Kelly’s name is confirmed to the press by the MoD as the source of the “leak”. Kelly feels betrayed by the MoD.  

11 July 2003

Kelly is told he will be expected to give televised evidence before the Foreign Affairs Committee. Mrs. Kelly later says, “I have never known him to be as unhappy as he was then.”

13 July 2003

Iraq’s interim governing council, composed of 25 Iraqis appointed by US and British officials, meets for the first time.

15 July 2003

Kelly appears before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and is insulted and harangued by Alastair Campbell and some of the MPs.

16 July 2003

Kelly gives evidence before the Intelligence and Security Committee. Again he is intimidated by the form of hostile questioning.

17 July 2003

Tony Blair flies to the US to receive the Congressional Medal of Honour.

Kelly emails a reporter and refers to “Many dark actors playing games”.

3pm. Kelly receives a phone call from the MoD.

Kelly goes out for a walk near his home and is later reported missing.

18 July 2003

Dr David Kelly is found dead

13 December 2003

Saddam Hussein captured hiding in an underground tunnel

2004 - Hutton Report & Butler Report Published

28 January 2004

Hutton Report into Dr Kelly’s death published, clearing ministers of wrongdoing and claiming reports about the September 2002 dossier were “unfounded”

Doubts: Dr Michael Powers QC says key questions were not asked about Dr Kelly as to the veracity of the second postmortem report, There was too little blood at the scene and the knife had no fingerprints on itNeither did a bottle of water, a mobile phone, glasses nor three empty blister packs of pills found with him.

14 July 2004

Butler Report on Iraq intelligence published, saying MI6 did not check its sources well enough and relied on third hand reports to compile the 2002 dossier. It also said the dossier should not have included the 45 minute claim without explaining what it meant.

28 September 2004

Speaking at the Labour conference, Mr Blair admits intelligence was wrong but claims the war was justified by the removal of Saddam Hussein, saying: "I can apologise for the information being wrong but I can never apologise, sincerely at least, for removing Saddam."

2005 - Tony Blair's Leadership Challenged

Glenda Jackson MP announces she will stand for leadership against Tony Blair to force a leadership election if he tries to cling to power.

1 May 2005

Secret Downing Street documents appear to show Mr Blair had examined ways of justifying an invasion of Iraq with his senior staff back in July 2002, but he insisted he would have held back if Saddam had met the UN's requirements.

Reg Keys, father of a British serviceman killed in Iraq, stands as an anti-war candidate against Tony Blair in Blair’s constituency of Sedgefield.

2007 - Tony Blair Resigns

10 May 2007

As casualties from the war mount, Tony Blair becomes increasingly unpopular and announces he will resign in June

24 June 2007

Tony Blair hands over the leadership of the Labour Party to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown.

27 June 2007

Blair tenders his resignation. Gordon Brown becomes Prime Minister.

Blair is offered the job of Middle East Peace Envoy.

17 November 2007

Mr Blair insists he was right to go to war, claiming that his only regret is "not having laid out for people in a clearer way what I saw as the profound nature of this struggle".

2009 - Sir John Chilcot Invited To Start Inquiry

July 2009

Prime Minister Gordon Brown invites Sir John Chilcot to set up an Inquiry into the invasion of Iraq and its aftermath.

11 October 2009

At a Memorial Service for soldiers who died in Iraq, heartbroken Peter Brierley, father of Corporal Shaun Brierley killed on active duty in Iraq, refuses to shake Tony Blair’s hand saying: “I’ll not shake your hand. It has blood on it.”

12 December 2009

Mr Blair still would have thought it right to remove Saddam even without WMDs.  He says: "I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments about the nature of the threat."

2010 - Chilcot Inquiry Collects Evidence

25 January 2010

Military families ask Sir John Chilcot if they can meet privately with Tony Blair after he appears before the Inquiry Panel.

29 January 2010

Tony Blair gives evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry, insisting he had absolutely no regrets in removing the “monster” Saddam Hussein.

Blair is questioned for six hours and he insists there was no conspiracy, deceit or deception in his decision to go to war.

He further confirmed there had been no secret deal with George W Bush to back the US military action. He reiterated that he was convinced Saddam Hussein possessed WMDs

5 March 2010

Prime Minister Gordon Brown denies starving UK armed forces of equipment to the Chilcot Inquiry. Brown said he fully backed the war.

8 March 2010

Former Foreign Secretary David Miliband tells the Chilcot Inquiry that the United Nations had been feeble in their efforts against Saddam Hussein. He added that most Iraqis felt they had been liberated from tyranny by overthrowing Saddam Hussein.

29 June 2010

Chilcot Inquiry hears that former French President, Jacques Chirac, believed the Iraq invasion was a very dangerous venture.

30 June 2010

The Chilcot Inquiry publishes documents relating to the legality of the war after they are declassified by the government. Details of former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith’s, legal advice to Tony Blair on 12 February 2003 are published on the Inquiry’s website.

6 July 2010

The government let down the families of British troops killed in Iraq, ex Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth tells the Chilcot Inquiry. He admits the Ministry of Defence did not get it right in terms of support for the families.

8 July 2010

The Chilcot Inquiry says it has taken evidence from 35 people.

12 July 2010

Sanctions should have been given more time to work and would have avoided military action, a former diplomat, Carne Ross, who resigned over the war, tells the Chilcot Inquiry.

16 July 2010

Former Minister, Adam Ingram, admits to the Chilcot Inquiry that it was “very wearing” for Ministers to have to meet bereaved relatives who blamed them for the deaths of their loved ones.

20 July 2010

Former Head of MI5, Baroness Manningham-Buller, tells the Chilcot Inquiry that, contrary to what Tony Blair claims, the invasion of Iraq has substantially increased the terrorist threat to the UK.

27 July 2010

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, clarifies the government’s position on the Iraq War after telling MPs that the war had been illegal. Mr Clegg said former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw would have to account for his role in the disastrous decision to invade Iraq.

28 July 2010

Army Chief, Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt tells the Chilcot Inquiry that troop commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan created “the perfect storm” for an overstretched Army.

18 November 2010

Sir John Chilcot gives details about the panel’s visit to Iraq.

8 December 2010

Tony Blair recalled to give evidence a second time to the Chilcot Inqiry.

2011 - Chilcot Inquiry Delayed
Malaysian Tribunal finds Bush and Blair Guilty

17 January 2011

Former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith admits to the Chilcot Inquiry that he was ‘”uncomfortable” with statements made by Tony Blair about the legal basis for the war in early 2003.

18 January 2011

Sir John Chilcot admits he is disappointed the government has chosen to publish the details of correspondence and conversations between Tony Blair and George Bush about Iraq.

Sir Gus O'Donnell rejects repeated requests from the Chilcot Inquiry to publish notes sent by Mr Blair to Mr Bush in the build up to the war, which the inquiry describes as essential evidence in setting out the agreements that led to war.

20 January 2011

Head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove’s, evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry is published stating that it was nonsense that the relationship between him and Tony Blair was too close.

21 January 2011

Tony Blair is recalled to give evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry for a second time. He expresses profound regret about the loss of life suffered by UK personnel and Iraqi citizens during and after the 2003 war. He addresses questions about the war’s legality, admitting former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, could have been more closely involved with decision making.

25 January 2011

Tony Blair was warned by the UK’s top civil servant in 2002 that he was getting into a “dangerous position” on Iraq. Former Cabinet Secretary Lord Wilson tells the Chilcot Inquiry he alerted Mr Blair to the legal issues involved.

28 January 2011

Tony Blair was reluctant to hold Cabinet discussions about Iraq because he was concerned they would be leaked. The UK’s top civil servant tells the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry that Blair believed the Cabinet was not a safe place to debate the issues involved in going to war in Iraq.

2 February 2011

In the last Chilcot Inquiry hearing to be held in public, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw insists regime change was “never the goal” of UK policy towards Saddam Hussein.

12 May 2011

The Chilcot Inquiry publishes new witness statements as a former intelligence official disputes evidence given by Alastair Campbell that the September 2002 dossier on Iraq’s weapons threat was “not designed to make the case for war.”

16 November 2011

The Chilcot Inquiry panel announces it will not publish its report until the summer of 2012. Sir John Chilcot said it needed the extra time to do justice to the issues involved.

23 November 2011

Malaysian Tribunal sitting at the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission finds George W Bush and Tony Blair guilty of war crimes in absentia.

2012 - Further Delays

16 July 2012

The Chilcot Inquiry panel announces a further delay to the publication of the Report.

17 September 2012

Desmond Tutu announces that he will not meet with ”war criminals” and that Tony Blair should be put on trial for war crimes.

6 November 2012

The Chilcot Inquiry panel says it cannot proceed with the next phase of its work because key information, including correspondence between Tony Blair and George W Bush has yet to be released.

14 November 2012

The US has no veto over the disclosure of communications between Tony Blair and George W Bush regarding the war in Iraq, the UK Cabinet Office says.

2013 - Demands for a Fresh Investigation Due to Cover-Up

17 July 2013

Doctors campaigning for a full inquest for weapons expert, David Kelly, claim there has been an egregious cover-up and demand a fresh investigation.

2014 - Blair Claims He's "Not Blocking Any Documents"

27 May 2014

Tony Blair says he wants the Chilcot Inquiry Report to be published as soon as possible. He claims he is “not blocking any documents and the publication would allow him to “restate the case” for the 2003 invasion.

9 September 2014

The UK’s top civil servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood, tells MPs that the Chilcot Report would be “more transparent” than people were expecting and would contain material that “would not normally be disclosed for a million years”.

2015 - Blair Apologizes, But Blames Intelligence Service

6 January 2015

House of Lords Inquiry is told that Tony Blair could face war crimes charges as a result of the Iraq War.

28 January 2015

Sir John Chilcot agrees to appear before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee to explain the delays of his Report.

4 February 2015

Appearing before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Sir John Chilcot says he will not give any timetable for the publication of his Report.

28 May 2015

Tony Blair resigns as Middle East Peace Envoy

17 June 2015

In response to Prime Minister David Cameron’s “disappointment” at the length of time the Report has taken, Sir John Chilcot announces the process of giving witnesses who might be criticized in his report the right of reply. This “Maxwellisation” process, he says, has yet to be completed as some individuals had not yet responded.

17 October 2015

Daily Mail publishes the leaked memo of Colin Powell confirming that Blair agreed with Bush to go to war against Iraq back in April 2002.

24 October 2015

Tony Blair appears on CNN and apologizes for the taking Britain to war and admits some guilt over Iraq but absolves himself from blame insisting the fault lay with the Intelligence Service.

29 October 2015

In a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, Sir John Chilcot says he expects to complete the report by April 2016. He says that, allowing for security checks by the government, the report would be published in June or July 2016.


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