In pictures: the war in Iraq
The explosions of the first night, lighting up the sky as they scorched the buildings below, were just the first explosions of the long war to come.
For the thousands of days and nights that followed, eruptions across Iraq came from warplanes and cannons, grenade launchers and mines, machine guns, pistols and pipe bombs. What began with the air strike and invasion of the United States to overthrow Saddam Hussein became an occupation, a war against an insurgency, and then a sectarian civil war.
The militias fought each other, divided along ethnic and sectarian lines, and fought US forces in turn, long after Mr. Hussein was captured and the United States abandoned its unsuccessful search for weapons of mass destruction.
And in much of Iraq, as factions mutated and missions changed, explosions destroyed more sidewalks, more storefronts, more city blocks. Fortified areas were dug in the cities, prison camps and fortresses outside the cities. The districts have become cemeteries, and shelter tombs. Generations have grown up talking about soldiers and insurgents, roadside bombs and traumatic injuries, doctors, mourners, protesters, detainees.
US forces did not leave until nearly nine years after the invasion began, after years of violence that transformed Iraq and piled grief upon grief. Only a few years later, American troops were back, this time to help fight the Islamic State, an enemy itself born out of the civil war in Iraq, and casualties were mounting again.
From the first night of the bombing until the official American withdrawal, photographers from the New York Times and other news agencies chronicled the ordeal of the war.
This gallery contains graphic images.
A heavily guarded compound near the Iraqi Foreign Ministry along the Tigris River in Baghdad burned after the Pentagon’s “shock and awe” bombing campaign began on March 20, in the first salvo of the war.
A US soldier saw a 20ft statue of Mr Hussein, who had ruled Iraq for 24 years, come down in central Baghdad on April 9.
Iraqi soldiers on a destroyed US tank in fighting on the highway in Doura, a southern suburb of Baghdad, on April 6.
US soldiers inside a palace that once belonged to Uday Saddam Hussein, one of the ruler’s sons, in Baghdad on April 10.
An Iraqi boy, who lost both legs in a bomb attack, at a hospital in Baghdad on April 14. The hospital was one of the institutions guarded by a local Shia group working in the absence of police forces.
Iraqi villagers on May 14 after exhuming up to 3,000 people from a mass grave in Mahawil, about 60 miles south of Baghdad. The victims are believed to have been killed during the 1991 Shia uprising against Mr Hussein’s regime.
US soldiers on December 15 in the compound of Ad-Dawr where Mr. Hussein was hiding before his capture.
At a cafe along the Tigris in Baghdad, Iraqi men watched Mr Hussein during his court appearance as it aired on television on July 1.
Two girls at their home in Baghdad on June 26.
An undated photo acquired by The New York Times of an Iraqi prisoner being mistreated at Abu Ghraib prison while it was under US military control.
US Army soldiers from the 1st Battalion 5th Calvary Regiment in the Najaf Cemetery on August 11.
A militiaman loyal to a Shiite cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, fired towards American positions in the old city of Najaf on August 22.
The brother of an Iraqi National Guard killed by a car bomb was comforted by a family member at a Baghdad hospital morgue on July 14.
Men carried posters of the Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani, Iraq’s most prominent Shia cleric, during a rally for the Ashura holiday on March 1 in Baghdad.
A Marine helped after being hit in the arm by a sniper bullet in Najaf on August 25.
Marines during an evening raid in Najaf on August 9. After raiding two schools and a factory, they were ambushed and came under heavy fire, including mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
Marines and Iraqi special forces prepared to evacuate civilians injured during fighting between the army and the mujahideen in Fallujah on November 12.
US soldiers and members of the Iraqi National Guard speak to a family as their home was raided Oct. 10 for weapons in Samarra, where US forces and their allies have been struggling to regain control.
Marines fired at a door so a platoon could gain access to a house to conduct a search November 14 in Falluja, where they were looking for fighters.
A young Iraqi girl has cried after her parents were killed when US soldiers fired at their car, which US authorities said failed to stop her as January 18 approached in Tal Afar.
The Marines attempted to take cover after white phosphorus, used to provide a smoke screen for American tanks, hit their position, causing burns in Falluja on 9 November.
The body of a US Marine arrived at the airport in Reno, Nevada.
A US sergeant dragged another marine to safety moments after he was shot by a sniper while on patrol with the Iraqi army in Anbar province on October 31.
The aftermath of a car bomb attack that killed at least four people and injured around 15 others in the Karada neighborhood of Baghdad on February 28.
US Army soldiers inspect a bag full of detonators and artillery detonators that were found buried by Iraqi police in Anbar province on April 12.
A US Army soldier at the home of an Iraqi civilian in Baghdad on May 14, as part of a US military plan that involved ‘knocks and talks’, in which soldiers would get to know the locals by introducing himself to Iraqi civilians.
A wounded soldier was loaded into a helicopter after being injured by shrapnel caused by a landmine or improvised explosive device in Latifah on May 19.
Injured Iraqis watch from an ambulance during a medical evacuation from the Mufrek neighborhood of Baquba in June 2007. They were injured during fighting between US forces and al-Qaeda fighters in the western part of the city .
Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, where a woman mourned her fiancé, who was killed in Iraq.
A worker at the Wadi al-Salam cemetery wrapped the body of a man killed in fighting in Sadr City on May 15.
US soldiers, aboard a Stryker combat vehicle, return to their base after a patrol in western Baghdad on June 2.
U.S. soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors raised their hands and repeated the pledge to re-enlist during a ceremony in Baghdad on July 4.
A Sunni militiaman at a checkpoint near Kharma on June 15.
Camp Bucca, the largest US detention center in Iraq, on March 4. The camp was to be closed as detained Iraqis were gradually handed over to Iraqi authorities.
An Iraqi police graduate was awaiting a ceremony at the Baghdad Police Academy on November 9. Fifty women were among the hundreds of cadets graduating that year.
A young girl cried after losing her mother in a car bomb at a hotel in Baghdad on January 25. Bomb attacks hit four hotels around the Iraqi capital that day, killing at least 37 people.
Mourners at the grave where a relative was buried in the vast Wadi al-Saalam cemetery in Najaf on August 23.
The band from the 1st Armored Division performed at an end-of-mission ceremony at Forward Operating Base Prosperity in Baghdad’s international zone on June 1.
US forces arrived in Kuwait on one of their last convoys out of Iraq on December 3.