December 15, 2011 – The Iraq War officially ended. The Iraq War, or the War in Iraq (also referred to as the Occupation of Iraq, the Second Gulf War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom by the United States military), was a conflict triggered by an invasion of Iraq by the United States from March 20, 2003 to December 15, 2011, though sectarian violence continues and has caused thousands of fatalities. On October 21, 2011, President Obama announced that all U.S. troops and trainers would leave Iraq by the end of the year, bringing the U.S. mission in Iraq to an end. On December 15, 2011, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta officially declared the Iraq War over, at a flag lowering ceremony in Baghdad. The last U.S. troops left Iraqi territory on December 18, 2011 at 4:27 UTC.