15 years ago, Iraqis rejoiced by toppling Saddam statue

Fifteen years ago, Iraqis toppled a statue of the longtime Iraqi ruler.

Today marks 15 years since Iraqis celebrated the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime by toppling a statue of the longtime ruler in downtown Baghdad.

Some of those celebrating beheaded the statue and embraced the American troops as liberators.

Saddam ruled for 23 years and committed numerous crimes before his ouster, which rendered him a fugitive with a $25 million bounty on his head.

In December 2003, the U.S. military confirmed Hussein's capture. At the time, President George W. Bush told Iraqis: "You do not have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein ever again."

Three years later, Hussein and two co-defendants were found guilty of murder and crimes against humanity, linked to the 1982 killings of 148 Shiite Muslims in the Iraqi town of Dujail. They were sentenced to death by hanging.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.