The U.S.-led multinational military campaign in Iraq began on March 19, 2003, with air strikes on the capital of Baghdad; ground forces moved into southern Iraq from neighboring Kuwait. After taking the southern city of Basra, U.S. marines and army infantry moved northward, toward the capital. U.S. troops took control of Baghdad on April 9, after which images of gleeful Iraqis dismantling statues and other symbols of Saddam Hussein’s despotic rule flooded the American media. Coalition forces, American troops, and U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters then pressed into northern Iraq, including Tikrit, Saddam’s hometown and a loyalist stronghold. On April 14 Tikrit fell. The war seemed to be near conclusion, but the hard combat had only begun—and continued for years, even after the end of major combat was declared.