A Look Back At Key Moments Of The Iraq War

As President Obama prepares to outline the withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq in an Oval Office speech Tuesday night, NPR's Robert Siegel and Melissa Block listen back to key moments of the Iraq war.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

More than seven years and five months after the Iraq War began, today marks an official end to America's combat mission there. Now the U.S. military will shift its focus to advise, assist, train and equip Iraqi forces.

Tonight, President Obama will deliver only the second Oval Office address of his presidency. He's expected to stress that the mission change does not mean mission accomplished.

SIEGEL: In a moment we'll hear what U.S. troops in Iraq think of the change. We'll also get a broader view of the war and the country by the numbers. But, first, we listen back to some of the war's pivotal moments.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict commenced at a time of our choosing.

(Soundbite of warfare)

Unidentified Woman #1: It woke me up. At about 5:30 I heard jets overhead. And then anti-aircraft gunners opened up and sirens wailed.

Pres. BUSH: At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.

(Soundbite of crowd)

Unidentified Woman #2: Crowds of Iraqi men in Baghdad kicking and then setting on fire a poster of Saddam Hussein.

DONALD RUMSFELD (Secretary of Defense): Saddam Hussein is now taking his rightful place alongside Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, Ceausescu in the pantheon of failed, brutal dictators.

(Soundbite of warfare)

Pres. BUSH: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.

(Soundbite of warfare)

SIEGEL: At least 20 people were killed, including the U.N. special representative to Iraq and more than 100 were wounded.

Unidentified Man #2: Ladies and gentlemen, we got 'em.

(Soundbite of cheering)

(Soundbite of shouting)

Unidentified Man #3: RPG.

Unidentified Man #4: Most men firing on U.S. positions here on the outskirts of Najaf.

Unidentified Man #5: Number one, we are absolutely appalled by what we saw. There is no excuse for what you see in those photos. And those soldiers let us down.

Pres. BUSH: So I've committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. The vast majority of them - five brigades - will be deployed to Baghdad.

Unidentified Man #6: (Through translator) Currently, the second situation is better. There's no comparison between the situation before and now.

Unidentified Man #7: I'm not pretending that it's perfect. I'm not pretending that it's ideal. What I am saying is that the problems can only be solved by Iraqis.

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