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Iraq’s historical roots date back almost 8,000 years to Mesopotamia – the “cradle of civilization (external link).” Iraq was placed under a United Kingdom mandate by the League of Nations in 1920 and stayed under British authority until it became an independent state in 1932 (PDF, 173KB).  The Baathist Party gained power in Iraq in 1968, and Saddam Hussein took over the party and country.  He ruled Iraq until he was ousted in 2003.  In May 2003, the United Nations Security Council voted to lift non-military sanctions on Iraq and recognized the Coalition Provisional Authority in Resolution 1483 (PDF, 58KB).

The international community has repeatedly accused Saddam Hussein of war crimes, genocide, and atrocities during his reign in Iraq.  Some of the allegations (external link) include using poison gas against Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, dropping chemical weapons on Halabja, which killed up to 5,000 people, and committing crimes against humanity and possibly genocide against the Marsh Arabs and Shi’a Arabs in southern Iraq, as well as against Iraqi Kurds in northern Iraq.  Throughout the 1990s Saddam Hussein repeatedly violated sixteen United Nations Security Council resolutions, which are described on the White House’s website.

Saddam Hussein’s regime was toppled in early 2003.  Eight months later on December 13, 2003, the United States military captured Saddam Hussein.  Since then it is believed that he has been held (external link) near the Baghdad airport.  The prosecution of Saddam Hussein is being carried out in the Green Zone in Baghdad in a well-protected courtroom.  The trial began in October 2005.

Last Updated: 07/03/2007