The Associated Press
Thursday, March 4, 2010 | 7:15 a.m.
A timeline of key events in Iraq beginning with the U.S.-led invasion to the March 7 parliamentary elections:
March 20: The U.S.-led invasion is launched.
April 9: American Marines help Iraqis pull down statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.
May 1: On an aircraft carrier under a "Mission Accomplished" banner, President Bush declares major combat operations in Iraq over.
May: L. Paul Bremer, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq, issues de-Baathification decree barring thousands from Saddam's Baath Party from government jobs and disbands Iraqi Army.
July 22: Saddam's sons Odai and Qusai die in firefight with U.S. Marines.
Aug. 19: Bomb explodes at UN headquarters, killing 22 people, including the U.N. envoy.
Aug. 29: Bomb outside Najaf mosque kills more than 85 people, including Shiite leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim.
Oct. 16: U.N. Security Council adopts resolution giving U.S. military authority to operate in Iraq.
Dec. 13: Saddam Hussein is captured.
March 8: Iraqi Governing Council signs interim constitution.
March 31: Gunmen in Fallujah kill four Blackwater contractors, prompting U.S. offensive in the city.
April 28-30: Pictures of American abuse at Abu Ghraib prompt worldwide outrage.
May 11: A video posted on an al-Qaida-linked Web site shows the beheading of Nicholas Berg.
June 28: The U.S.-led occupation authority turns over power to interim Iraqi government two days ahead of schedule.
Oct. 6: U.S. arms inspector finds no evidence Saddam Hussein's regime produced weapons of mass destruction after 1991.
Nov. 8: U.S. launches second major offensive to retake Fallujah from insurgents.
Jan. 30: Sunnis largely boycott Iraq's first national elections since Saddam's fall. Shiite-dominated coalition wins 48 percent of 275-seat National Assembly.
April 6: Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani elected president.
May 3: The first democratically elected Iraqi government is sworn in.
Oct. 15: Iraqi voters approve constitution with strong Shiite, Kurdish support; Sunni Arabs largely oppose.
Oct. 19: Saddam goes on trial in Baghdad.
Dec. 15: Iraqis elect new parliament with Shiite parties winning biggest bloc.
Feb. 22: In Samarra, suspected Sunni insurgents bomb the landmark golden dome of the revered Shiite Askariya shrine. The attack sparks months of sectarian slaughter.
May 20: Nouri al-Maliki is sworn in as prime minister.
June 7: American air strike kills al-Qaida in Iraq founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
September: First meeting in Anbar of what becomes known as the Awakening Councils. Set up to fight al-Qaida in Iraq, the groups lead to drop in violence in later years.
Nov 5: Saddam sentenced to death.
Dec. 30: Saddam executed.
Dec. 31: U.S. troop deaths reach 3,000.
Jan. 10: President Bush announces extra troops being sent to Iraq in mission dubbed "the surge."
Aug. 29: Anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr calls cease-fire.
Sept. 16: Blackwater security contractors kill 17 Iraqis in a shooting in downtown Baghdad.
Oct. 23: U.N. says more than 2 million people are displaced in Iraq, and more than 2 million have fled the country.
Sept. 1: The U.S. military passes security control of Anbar province to the Iraqis.
Dec. 4: Iraq's presidential council approves a security pact with the U.S. requiring American troops to leave Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009, and the entire country by the end of 2011.
Dec. 14: Iraqi journalist throws his shoes at President Bush during a press conference in the Green Zone.
Jan. 1: The U.S. hands over control of the Green Zone to Iraqis; opens new American Embassy.
Feb. 27: President Obama announces Aug. 31, 2010, deadline to withdraw combat troops; all troops to leave by end of 2011.
June 30: U.S. troops withdraw from urban areas.
Aug. 19: Suicide bombers strike finance and foreign ministries, killing more than 100 people.
Aug. 26: Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, who headed Iraq's biggest Shiite political party, dies in Iran.
Oct. 25: Two car bombs explode in downtown Baghdad, killing at least 155 people.
Dec. 8: Bombs in Baghdad kill at least 127; March 7 set for national elections.
Jan. 25: Saddam's cousin, known as "Chemical Ali," is executed.
Feb. 14: A Shiite-led political vetting panel bans hundreds of candidates with suspected ties to Saddam Hussein's Baath party from running.