The town is populated mainly by pro-Saddam Sunni Arabs and is located in what has become known as the "Sunni Triangle" region of Iraq. It was quiet during the 2003 invasion of Iraq but Coalition forces had long suspected that Saddam was hiding somewhere nearby and anti-US insurgents were known to be operating in the area. On May 15, 2003, troops from the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division raided the town, arresting more than 260 suspected Baath Party supporters. The vast majority were soon released but five Iraqi special security forces officers were reported captured, including two Iraqi army generals and a general from Saddam's security forces who had disguised himself as a shepherd. An attack near ad-Dawr killed two American soldiers and injured three on August 13, 2003. The 4th Infantry Division's 124th Signal Battalion adopted the Nasiba Primary School for Girls in the town and completed its refurbishment in November 2003.
On December 13, 2003, the 4th Infantry Division returned to ad-Dawr under the auspices of Operation Red Dawn and found Saddam Hussein hiding in a spider hole in front of a hut occupied by a man believed to be his former cook, Qais Namuk.