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Civil war in Iraq

An Iraqi policeman waves to a family while conducting a joint Iraqi-American patrol in Samarra
Military Conflict
ConflictCivil war/sectarian violence in Iraq
Date~February 2006- ~May 2008
LocationIraq (mostly central, including Baghdad)
ResultOngoing but mainly halted *Subsequent depletion of Iraqi insurgency *Improvements in public security *Foreign terrorist operations *Democratic Elections held *Presence of American troops in advise and assist role until the end of 2011 *Presence of British troops in order to train Iraqi military until May 2011 *Tens to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed *~4 million displaced
Sunni factions:
Flag of The Islamic State of Iraq.jpg Islamic State of Iraq
al-Qaeda al-Qaeda in Iraq
Flag of the Ba'ath Party.png Ba'ath Party Loyalist
Ansar al-Sunna
Islamic Army of Iraq
Sunni tribes
Other Sunni insurgents and militia
Shi'a factions:
Mahdi Army (and Special Groups)
Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq
Kata'ib Hezbollah
Promised Day Brigades
Badr Brigades
Rogue elements among the Iraqi security forces
Soldiers of Heaven
Shia tribes
Other militias
State security:
Iraq Iraqi security forces
United States United States
United Kingdom United Kingdom (until May, 2009)
Other coalition forces
Private Security Contractors
Kurdistan Peshmerga
Sons of Iraq
Flag of The Islamic State of Iraq.jpg Abu Omar al-Baghdadi 
al-Qaeda Abu Musab al-Zarqawi 
al-Qaeda Abu Ayyub al-Masri 
al-Qaeda Abu Suleiman
Iraq Saddam Hussein 
Flag of the Ba'ath Party.png Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri
Abu Abdullah al-Shafi 
Fakri Hadi Gari 
Ishmael Jubouri
Muqtada al-Sadr
Abu Deraa
Qais al-Khazali 
Akram al-Kabi
Arkan Hasnawi 
Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim 
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim
Hadi al-Amiri
Abu Mustafa al-Sheibani
Dia Abdul Zahra Kadim 
Ahmed Hassani al-Yemeni 
IraqKurdistan Jalal Talabani
Iraq Ibrahim al-Jaafari
Iraq Nouri al-Maliki
United States Tommy Franks
United States David Petraeus
Kurdistan Massoud Barzani
Abdul Sattar Abu Risha 
Ahmad Abu Risha
Sunni Insurgents: 70,000 (2003-2007)
Foreign Mujahedeen: 1,300
Mahdi Army: 60,000(2003-2008)
Badr Organisation: 20,000
Soldiers of Heaven: 1,000
Special Grous:
Several Thousand
~49,700 current
Iraqi Security Forces
618,000 (805,269 Army and 348,000 Police)
Awakening Council militias
~100,000 Sunnis killed by Shi'a militia and security forces
~150,000 Civilians killed by Sunni insurgents
4,718 Coalition forces killed
9,481 Iraqi Security Forces killed

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Following the U.S.-launched 2003 invasion of Iraq, the situation deteriorated, and by 2007, the conflict between Iraqi Sunni and Shi'a factions was described by the National Intelligence Estimate as having elements of a civil war. In a January 10, 2007 address to the American people, President George W. Bush stated that "80% of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 mi (48.3 km) of the capital. This violence is splitting Baghdad into sectarian enclaves, and shaking the confidence of all Iraqis." Two polls of Americans conducted in 2006 found that between 65% to 85% believed Iraq was in a civil war; however, a similar poll of Iraqis conducted in 2007 found that 61% did not believe that they were in a civil war.

In October 2006, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Iraqi government estimated that more than 365,000 Iraqis had been displaced since the 2006 bombing of the al-Askari Mosque, bringing the total number of Iraqi refugees to more than 1.6 million. By 2008, the UNHCR raised the estimate of refugees to a total of about 4.7 million (~16% of the population). The number of refugees estimated abroad was 2 million (a number close to CIA projections) and the number of internally displaced people was 2.7 million. In 2007, Iraq's anti-corruption board reported that 35% of Iraqi children, or about five million children, were orphans. The Red Cross has also stated that Iraq's humanitarian situation remains among the most critical in the world, with millions of Iraqis forced to rely on insufficient and poor-quality water sources.

According to the Failed States Index, produced by Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace, Iraq was one of the world's top 5 unstable states from 2005 to 2008. A poll of top U.S. foreign policy experts conducted in 2007 showed that over the next 10 years, just 3% of experts believed the U.S. would be able to rebuild Iraq into a "beacon of democracy" and 58% of experts believed that Sunni-Shiite tensions would dramatically increase in the Middle East.

In June 2008, the U.S. Department of Defense reported that "the security, political and economic trends in Iraq continue to be positive; however, they remain fragile, reversible and uneven." In July 2008, the audit arm of the U.S. Congress recommended that the U.S. Government should "develop an updated strategy for Iraq that defines U.S. goals and objectives after July 2008 and addresses the long-term goal of achieving an Iraq that can govern, defend, and sustain itself". Steven Simon, a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in May 2008 that "the recent short-term gains" had "come at the expense of the long-term goal of a stable, unitary Iraq."

After Iraqi security forces took the lead in security operations on June 30, 2009, Iraq experienced a "dramatic reduction in war-related violence of all types ..., with civilian and military deaths down by 80 to 90 percent compared with the same period in 2008."

As of late 2010 violence remains at far lower levels than during the worst of the bloodshed in 2006-2007. However hundreds are still killed every month by sectarian groups and insurgents attempting to exploit the perceived weakness of the Iraqi Government. There is much debate on whether or not the "Civil War" has ended as well as heated controversey on how to label the violence that is still a daily feature of life in Iraq.

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