Following a lengthy build up of political support for the invasion of Iraq within the US, and mixed support amongst its western allies, some 100,000 US troops were deployed to Kuwait in mid-February 2003. The invasion was launched in earnest on 20 March following preliminary airstrikes against Iraqi observation positions along the border and targets in Baghdad. The initial invasion force consisted of around 150,000 American troops, 45,000 British troops and 70,000 Kurdish militia troops along with small numbers of other coalition forces. The number of Iraqi troops was estimated to be around 350,000 with an additional 70,000 in the National Guard. The British and Americans led the drive towards Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, where a revolt by the Shi’ite population had led to Iraqi army attacks on citizens. Meanwhile, during the push north towards Baghdad, American forces suffered a series of ambushes near An Nasiriyah on 23 March which resulted in significant casualties.
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