Comment
0
Tweet
0
Print
RSS Feeds

AP PHOTOS: Scenes from Baghdad, 10 years on

Tuesday - 3/19/2013, 1:30pm  ET

This Wednesday, March 13, 2013 photo shows a general view of Firdous Square at the site of an Associated Press photograph taken by Jerome Delay as the statue of Saddam Hussein is pulled down by U.S. forces and Iraqis on April 9, 2003. Ten years ago on live television, U.S. Marines memorably hauled down a Soviet-style statue of Saddam, symbolically ending his rule. Today, that pedestal in central Baghdad stands empty. Bent iron beams sprout from the top, and posters of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in military fatigues are pasted on the sides.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

MAYA ALLERUZZO
Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) -- To the first-time visitor, Baghdad might seem like a normal city. Well, almost normal: Pockmarked buildings and pervasive checkpoints serve as a stark reminder of the violence that nearly tore the country in the decade following the U.S.-led invasion, which began on March 20, 2003.

Today, the Baghdad Zoo is a popular destination for families wearing their finest clothes and enjoying spring weather before the temperature climbs. Nearly 10 years ago, the zoo's staff fled just before Baghdad fell to U.S. troops. All but 35 of the animals died. Later, an American platoon set up a small base at the zoo, where they protected the facility from looting while it was rebuilt.

Abu Nawas Park, where orphans sniffed glue and slept beneath American tanks, now too is a haven for families and a place for die-hard soccer players to practice in the afternoons.

The Iraqi National Museum lost countless treasures during a chaotic period before Americans moved in to secure it. Today, the grounds are under renovation. Fewer than half of the antiquities have been recovered.

The Karrada district is a bustling commercial hub of shops and restaurants that stay open late into the night. During the bloodiest stretch of the war, these shops were shuttered by sundown.

The Iraqi capital and the people who live here still bear scars, some invisible.

On March 14, 2013, a series of coordinated bombings struck the Justice Ministry and killed dozens. Hours after that attack, a man sat in Firdous Square and watched his three children play, running circles around the pedestal that held Saddam Hussein's statue before U.S. Marines pulled it down. None of the children had even been born when the war began. But when an explosion shook the square from yards (meters) away, they didn't even flinch.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.