15 December 2005: Iraqis to go to the polls to elect a new parliament.

November-December: Months of bombings continue, killing hundreds across the country, and domestic and international pressure for US and UK troop reductions in Iraq intensifies.

25 October: At least 80% of the population votes in a referendum to approve a new constitution. Iraq is designated an Islamic federal democracy. However, the constitution document comes close to failing after two key Sunni provinces reject it.

The US military death toll surpasses 2000.

19 October: The trial of Saddam Hussein opens in Baghdad.

14 September: More than 180 people are killed in a series of attacks in Baghdad, including a car bomb attack on a group of workers in a mainly Shia district. Al-Qaida in Iraq claims responsibility. Its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born Sunni militant, declares war on Iraqi Shia.

28 August: After weeks of haggling, a new constitution is endorsed by Shia and Kurdish negotiators, but not by the Sunni representatives. Thousands of Sunnis across Iraq stage protests rejecting the constitution.

9 June: Massoud Barzani is sworn in as the regional president of Iraqi Kurdistan, an important consolidation for the Kurdish minority. 

Iraq is plagued with attacks,
undermining political stability

6 April: After months of wrangling since January's elections, the assembly selects Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish leader, as president and Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shia, as prime minister.

28 February: The deadliest day of the insurgency with at least 114 people killed by a massive car bomb in Hilla, south of Baghdad. Another massive car bomb in March kills more than 100 at a Shia funeral.

30 January: Up to eight million people vote in elections for a Transitional National Assembly, touted as the first free democratic elections since the removal of Saddam. The Shia United Iraqi Alliance wins a majority of assembly seats, Kurdish parties come second and the Sunni population largely abstains.

2004

7 December: The number of US troops killed in Iraq hits 1000.

8 November: Thousands of US troops begin another large offensive against fighters in Falluja.

29 October: A British study reports that the Iraqi civilian death toll since invasion may be as high as 100,000 and mostly as a result of air raids by US-led forces. (In July 2005 another study by the non-governmental organisation Iraq Body Count says 25,000 were killed.)

21 September: Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, calls the US invasion of Iraq illegal.

14 July: The British government is cleared by Lord Butler of any deliberate attempt to mislead the British public over the invasion of Iraq.

28 June: In a surprise move two days ahead of schedule, the US hands over sovereignty to the interim government, headed by Iyad Allawi, the interim prime minister. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and Governing Council dissolve.

Shia Muslims have gained the
most political power in Iraq 

Saddam Hussein is transferred into Iraqi legal custody and the process of putting him on trial for crimes against humanity begins.

16 June: The Independent 9-11 Commission in the US finds "no credible evidence" of a link between Iraq and al-Qaida, a prominent assertion repeatedly made by the Bush administration in justifying the invasion of Iraq.

20 May: Ahmed Chalabi, the one-time Pentagon favourite and a prime instigator of the Iraq invasion, has his Baghdad offices raided by US forces. This marks a turning point in relations.

29 April: Photographic evidence emerges of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US troops at Abu Ghraib prison. Evidence of wider abuse of Iraqi detainees among US-led troops soon emerges. 

24 April: Oil facilities are targeted by fighters, crippling the revival of Iraqi oil production.

14 April: An Italian security guard becomes the first Western hostage to be murdered. Hostage taking of foreign citizens becomes more numerous in the months that follow.

5 April: Growing tensions lead to US clashes with Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shia cleric. Also, US troops begin a month-long siege of the northern city of Falluja, a hotbed of resistance against the occupation. Much of the city is devastated, with casualties among civilians and fighters.

2 March: Worst day of carnage since invasion, with the Shia community targeted in a series of attacks that kill more than 200 people.

1 March: Iraqi political factions agree on an interim governing constitution to come into effect when the US hands over sovereignty to them in the summer.

1-3 February:  Bowing to much public pressure, the US and UK governments set up inquiries investigating why they went to war.

5 January: First case of US soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners is widely reported.

2003

The US still retains more than 
120,000 soldiers in Iraq

14 December: Saddam Hussein is captured near his home town of Tikrit.

4 November: The US Congress authorises George Bush's request for $87 billion to continue the occupation of Iraq.

2 October: David Kay, Washington's man tasked with finding weapons of mass destruction, admits that none can be found and probably never existed in any significant form.

19 August: A truck bomb destroys the UN HQ in Baghdad, killing 20, including the UN head. Also in August there were truck-bomb attacks on the Jordanian embassy, and at the Shia holy city of Najaf. Al-Qaida in Iraq is suspected of involvement in some attacks. 

22 July: Saddam's sons, Uday and Qusay, are killed in a gun battle in Mosul by US troops.

13 July: The US-appointed Governing Council convenes for the first time.

22 May: The Security Council votes to recognise the US (and UK) as the temporary occupying power and sanctions against Iraq are lifted. 

21 May: With a change of government, Spain becomes the first significant coalition country to withdraw its troops from Iraq, acceding to domestic public demands.

13 May: First Saddam-era mass grave discovered, near Baghdad, containing an estimated 15,000 Shia civilians.

1 May: George Bush, from a US warship, announces the end of "major combat operations".

27 April: Iraq's army disbanded by order of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).

21 April: A post-war civil administration the Coalition Provisional Authority comes into effect headed by Jay Garner, a retired US general. He is later replaced by Paul Bremer.

12 April: The US military reveals a 55 most-wanted list of members of the former government in the form of playing cards. Later in the month, government figures such as Tariq Aziz, the former deputy prime minister, and Barzan al-Tikriti, Saddam's half-brother, are captured and taken into US custody. 
 

Saddam's government is toppled 
two weeks into the invasion

9 April: Saddam is removed from power, his statue toppled in Baghdad, and US forces claim the city. The northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul come under allied coalition and Kurdish control in the next few days. Widespread looting around the country also begins.

The number of deaths of Iraqi civilians in the first two weeks of war is reported at 20,000 by several news media.

21 March: First reports of US casualties killed in combat appear in the media as British and American ground forces enter from the south of the country. Four days later, the UK confirms its first military combat deaths. 

20 March: War in Iraq. US missiles strike targets in Baghdad, marking the start of a US-led campaign to remove Saddam Hussein, President Bush's opposite number in Iraq, from power.