June 30 (Reuters) - U.S. combat troops prepared to leave the last of Iraq’s cities on Tuesday, a move hailed by Iraqi authorities as restoring sovereignty.
Following is a timeline of key events in Iraq since U.S. and British forces invaded Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein on March 20, 2003:
April 9 - U.S. troops take Baghdad, Saddam disappears.
July 13 - The Iraqi Governing Council — 25 Iraqis chosen under U.S. supervision — holds inaugural meeting in Baghdad.
Aug. 19 - Suicide truck bomb at U.N. headquarters in Baghdad kills 22 people, including U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.
Aug. 29 - A car bomb kills at least 83 people, including top Shi’ite Muslim leader Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim, at the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf.
Dec. 13 - U.S. troops capture Saddam near Tikrit. U.S. governor of Iraq Paul Bremer breaks news with: "We got him."
March 2, 2004 - Bombers killed 171 people in Baghdad and the Shi’ite holy city of Kerbala. The coordinated attacks came as majority Shi’ites marked Ashura, one of their holiest days, for the first time since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
March 8, 2004 - Governing Council signs interim constitution.
June 1 - Governing Council dissolved to make way for interim government led by Iyad Allawi. Ghazi al-Yawar named president.
June 28 - United States formally returns sovereignty. Coalition Provisional Authority dissolved. Bremer leaves Iraq.
Jan. 30, 2005 - Shi’ite-led United Alliance dominates vote for local councils and interim parliament.
March 16 - National Assembly holds first meeting.
Oct. 15 - Referendum ratifies constitution by 78 percent despite Sunni Arab opposition which nearly vetoes it.
Oct. 19 - Saddam goes on trial charged with crimes against humanity for the killing of 148 Shi’ite men and boys in Dujail after a 1982 assassination attempt. He pleads not guilty.
Dec. 15 - Parliamentary election. Sunnis vote in strength.
Feb. 10, 2006 - Final results give Shi’ite Alliance near majority with 128 seats. Sunni Arabs have 58 and Kurds 53.
Feb. 22 - Bombing of Shi’ite shrine in Samarra sparks widespread sectarian violence, raising fears of civil war.
June 7 - U.S. aircraft kill al Qaeda leader in Iraq leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Nov. 5 - A court in Baghdad finds Saddam guilty of crimes against humanity and sentences him to hang over Dujail killings.
Dec. 30 - Saddam is executed.
May 28 - Iranian and U.S. ambassadors to Iraq meet in Baghdad to discuss ways to improve security in the country. The talks end a three-decade diplomatic freeze between the two foes.
June 15 - U.S. military says it has completed its troop build-up, or "surge", to 160,000 soldiers to quell violence.
Aug. 1 - The main Sunni Arab bloc pulls out of Maliki’s cabinet, plunging the government into crisis.
Aug. 14 - Truck bombings against the minority Yazidi community in northern Iraq kill 411 people. The bombings are the deadliest militant attacks in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion.
Aug. 29 - Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr imposes ceasefire on Mehdi Army militia for six months after clashes with police.
Jan. 12, 2008 - Parliament votes for members of Saddam’s Baath Party return to government jobs, key to reconciliation.
March 25 - Maliki launches crackdown on militias in Basra, sparking battles with Sadr’s Mehdi Army. Fighting rages for a week in south Iraq and many weeks in Baghdad, killing hundreds, but Mehdi army is eventually defeated and Sadr disbands it.
July 19 - Iraq’s main Sunni Arab bloc rejoins the government when parliament approves its candidates for ministerial posts.
Sept. 1 - The U.S. military hands over Anbar province to Iraqi security forces, the first Sunni Arab province returned to Iraqi control since 2003.
Nov. 17 - Iraq and the United States sign an accord requiring Washington to withdraw its forces by the end of 2011. The pact gives the government authority over the U.S. mission for the first time, replacing a U.N. Security Council mandate. Parliament approves pact after negotiations 10 days later.
Jan. 1, 2009 - U.S.-Iraq security pact comes into force, placing the 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq under Iraqi authority.
Jan. 31 - Iraq holds provincial elections, the most peaceful vote since the fall of Saddam, demonstrating big security gains.
Feb. 5 - Poll results show Maliki’s coalition scores big victory at the expense of sectarian and federalist parties.
Feb. 27 - U.S. President Barack Obama announces plan to end U.S. combat operations in Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010, but says will leave up to 50,000 troops to train Iraqi forces.
April 7 - U.S. President Obama visits Baghdad, marking a new chapter in his strategy to wind down the unpopular war in Iraq.
June 12 - Harith al-Ubaidi, head of the Accordance Front, parliament’s biggest Sunni Muslim bloc, is killed at a mosque.
June 24 - A bomb kills 72 people in Sadr City. Four days earlier a suicide bomber detonated a truck bomb killing 73.
June 30 - All U.S. combat units withdraw from Iraq’s urban centres and redeploy to bases outside, according to a bilateral security pact.