Today in History: The Battle of Baghdad
by M.C. Millman
The Battle of Baghdad took place in early April 2003 and was a military invasion of Baghdad led by the U.S. that took place three weeks into the invasion of Iraq.
The U.S. invaded Iraq due to claims by President Bush that Saddam Hussein, Iraq's president of two decades, was continuing to stockpile and manufacture weapons of mass destruction. Bush also claimed Iraq was part of an international Axis of Evil along with Iran and North Korea and was a threat to international peace.
In October 2002, Congress authorized the use of military force against Iraq.
Operation Iraqi Freedom began the Battle of Baghdad on March 20, 2003, with 295,000 US and allied troops invading Iraq across its border with Kuwait.
On April 4, 2003, the First Brigade's Third Infantry Division advanced on the Baghdad International Airport. The location was deemed the best-defended Iraqi location of the entire war. It was captured after a battle of several hours.
On April 7, U.S. U.S. troops took control of a major presidential palace. Shortly after that, U.S. forces ordered Iraqi forces in Baghdad to surrender. I.S. forces threatened that the city would face a full-scale attack if it refused to surrender. Most Iraqi government officials had already disappeared. Those that were found were quick to concede defeat.
The response of the Iraqi civilians to the disappearance of their government was to immediately begin looting whatever they could: palaces, government offices, hospitals, medical equipment, the National Museum of Iraq (where nearly 170,000 irreplaceable historical artifacts were either stolen or broken) the Saddam Arts Center, the University of Baghdad, five-star hotels: state-owned supermarkets, factories, and homes. Nothing was safe, and the black market thrived as the only place one could purchase what was needed to survive.
On April 14, the Iraq National Library and National Archives burned, adding to the country's historical destruction as thousands of ancient manuscripts turned to ash in the flames.
On April 9, Saddam Hussein stepped away from his command bunker buried under the Al A'Zamiyah district of northern Baghdad and walked around while accompanied by his bodyguards and one of his sons. He was televised greeting those he met before he returned to hiding in his bunker.
By April 10, the American commanders heard that Saddam was in Al A'Zamiyah, but he wasn't captured until December 13, 2003. He was later tried and executed.
No weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq.