AFP – Iraq, where legislative elections take place on Wednesday, has for more than a year seen an upsurge of violence.
The unrest has been principally driven by anger in the Sunni Arab community over alleged mistreatment at the hands of the Shi’a-led government and security forces, as well as a spillover from the civil war in neighbouring Syria.
Key dates since the US-led invasion of Iraq on 20 March 2003:
20 March: US-led forces begin onslaught against Iraq, which they accuse of harbouring weapons of mass destruction.
9 April: US forces take control of Baghdad, symbolically toppling a large statue of Saddam Hussein.
1 May: US President George W. Bush announces the end of major combat operations.
2 October: US admits no weapons of mass destruction found.
13 December: Saddam captured.
28 April: Photographs emerge of US forces humiliating inmates at Abu Ghraib Prison. The prison was closed in 2014 for security reasons.
28 June: The US-led administration transfers power to the Iraqi government.
30 January: Iraqis vote in the first multi-party poll in 50 years, a poll Sunni Arabs largely boycott.
6 April: Kurd Jalal Talabani is elected president by the transitional parliament.
15 October: A new constitution setting out a federal framework for the country’s Shi’a, Kurd and Sunni communities is endorsed in a nationwide referendum.
15 December: The conservative Shi’a United Iraqi Alliance wins the most seats in parliamentary elections.
22 February: A revered Shi’a shrine in Samarra is blown up, marking the start of a bloody sectarian war that killed tens of thousands between 2006-2008.
22 April: Talabani re-elected. Nuri Al-Maliki, a Shi’a, is named prime minister and forms a government in May.
30 December: Saddam hanged.
14 August: More than 400 killed in the northern province of Nineveh in attacks on a Kurdish religious minority.
1 January: The US transfers control of Baghdad’s high-security Green Zone.
30 June: US forces quit urban areas.
7 March: Inconclusive second parliamentary elections unleash protracted negotiations to form new government.
21 December: National unity government led by Maliki is formed.
18 December: US troops complete their withdrawal.
19 December: Iraq issues an arrest warrant for Sunni Vice President Tareq Al-Hashemi on anti-terror charges, prompting a deep political crisis.
23 December: The start of major protests demanding the ouster of Maliki, particularly in the Sunni province of Anbar.
23 April: Clashes in Hawijah in northern Iraq between security forces and anti-government protesters allegedly infiltrated by militants leave more than 240 dead in a week.
10 August: More than 70 are killed in a wave of attacks during the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a powerful jihadist group.
According to the NGO Iraq Body Count, 2013 was the deadliest year since 2008 with 9,475 civilians killed.
2-4 January: Iraq loses control of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi in Anbar province to Al-Qaeda-linked fighters, after security forces cleared an anti-government protest camp.
1 April: Campaigning for the 30 April general election opens, as near-daily attacks have killed more than 2,800 people this year, according to an AFP count based on police and medics.