It took a little more than three weeks, from late March to early April 2003, for American forces to topple the Iraqi regime. But by the time U.S. Marines helped an Iraqi crowd overturn a statue of dictator Saddam Hussein in Baghdad's Firdos Square on April 9, the man himself was long gone, having melted into the chaos of his collapsed regime.
Over the next seven months, U.S. forces would kill Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay and launch a manhunt throughout his hometown of Tikrit. When American special forces literally pulled Saddam from a hole in the ground outside Tikrit in December 2003, TIME's Nancy Gibbs wrote, "there was justice in the news that Saddam Hussein had survived by being buried alive." Saddam stood trial for war crimes in Baghdad; three years later, he was executed by hanging.
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