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National & World

Photos: Iraq - 10 years later

Photos: Iraq - 10 years later
This Tuesday, March 12, 2013 photo shows a general view of Abu Nawas Street in Baghdad, Iraq, at the site of a photograph of Iraqi orphan Fady al-Sadik waking on the street, taken by photographer Maya Alleruzzo in April, 2003. The park that runs along Abu Nawas Street, named for an Arabic poet, is now a popular destination for families who are drawn by the manicured gardens, playgrounds and restaurants famous for a fish called mazgouf. Ten years ago, the park was home to a tribe of children orphaned by the war and was rife with crime. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
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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.

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