Basra drawdown April 2009 CREDIT BFBS
British troops officially ended combat operations in Iraq in 2009.

Op Telic: Remembering the Iraq War mission

Basra drawdown April 2009 CREDIT BFBS
British troops officially ended combat operations in Iraq in 2009.

The UK's deployment in Iraq was termed Operation Telic.

It was the codename for the military mission, beginning in 2003 and officially ending in May 2011.

To understand the Second Gulf War, you must look back to the first, where Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein ordered the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 but was quickly driven back by a large multi-national coalition.

The brokered ceasefire agreement allowed Hussein to remain in power in Iraq, under significant sanctions.

Some felt that the US should have pursued the war until Hussein was overthrown but this was not the purpose of the UN mandate. 

Watch: All you need to know about the First Gulf War.

Fast-forward to 2001 and in the wake of the 11 September attacks, the War on Terror was proclaimed by US President George W Bush.

Many hawks within the Bush Jnr White House pushed for an immediate invasion of Iraq, but caution prevailed. A case had to be made.

Was Saddam protecting or colluding with Al-Qaeda? It was suggested so.

Did he have weapons of mass destruction? The UK Government at the time said so.

UN resolutions were passed, votes in the Commons, and soon US, British, Australian and Polish troops invaded Iraq.

The date was 20 March 2003.

The vast air assets of the allies dealt a serious blow to Iraqi Forces – in particular, their morale.

The presidential palace in Baghdad was the first target.

British Troops Iraq
One hundred and seventy-nine British Armed Forces personnel died serving on Operation Telic between the start of the campaign and July 2009 (Picture: MOD).

The first British objective was Umm Qasr – a port city where troops met stiff resistance.

Then it was on to Iraq's second-largest city, Basra.

The 7th Armoured Brigade, the Desert Rats, fought their way in, constantly harried by Iraqi regular troops and Fedayeen militia.

Joining them was 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment.

The city of Basra was reached after two weeks of fierce fighting, including the biggest tank battle by UK forces since the Second World War.

Meanwhile, US-led forces further north met little organised resistance and quickly arrived at the Iraqi capital.

It was all over in weeks, with 'job done' being declared on 1 May 2003.

Then-Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed British Forces in Iraq, saying: "When people look back on this time and look back on this conflict, I honestly believe they will see this as one of the defining moments of our century.

"And you did it."

British troops now had to patrol the ground they had captured and BFBS reporters joined them.

Shortly after the war, troops from 1st Battalion The Black Watch began patrolling without body armour, wearing their traditional Tam O'Shanter headdress.

The locals were declared friendly and the area was described as safe. But that didn't last.

Watch: Tony Blair reflects on the Iraq War.

Six members of the Royal Military Police were killed by an angry mob in Majar al-Kabir.

And as the mission stretched to months and then years, the British grip on the city faltered.

In 2005, nine airmen and one soldier were killed when an RAF Hercules was shot down by insurgents.

Mobs attacked UK tanks, while roadside bombs left many dead or maimed.

In 2009, combat operations in Iraq came to an end, with a ceremony being held in Basra, before the official withdrawal and end of Op Telic was confirmed in May 2011.

However, the fallout from the Iraq War has continued in the years since.

The 2016 Chilcot Report concluded that the legal basis for the war was "far from satisfactory".

The report found Britain chose to join the US-led invasion before "peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted".

Some 179 British Armed Forces personnel died serving on Telic between the start of the campaign and July 2009.

Join Our Newsletter


How is Estonia dealing with heightened Russian threat to its security?

RAF airman John Nichol's life-saving decision to eject from burning Tornado jet

Tough three-day course BEFORE starting Royal Marine Commando training