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Mar 19th, 2010

Little Fanfare for 7th Anniversary of War in Iraq

Residents look to future with mix of trepidation, hope

Image: A man walks past a wreckage of an Iraqi military vehicle in Baghdad
The wreckage of an Iraqi military vehicle destroyed during the air campaign in the early stages of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 still scars the landscape. Seven years after the first bombs fell, Iraqis went about their business Friday, March 19, 2010 with little observance of the anniversary. (Photo credit: Hadi Mizban / AP)

March 19, 2010

BAGHDAD — Almost seven years after the first bombs in the war to oust Saddam Hussein, Iraqis went about their business Friday with little observance of the anniversary, looking to the future with a mixture of trepidation and hope. …

There was little fanfare in Baghdad and around the country for an event many Iraqis first viewed with hope only to see it sour into sorrow and anger as the invasion unleashed rampant sectarian violence. …

While violence has plummeted since the height of the bloodshed in 2006 and 2007, attacks continue across the country, although in much smaller numbers.

On Friday, at least five people were killed in bombs and shootings across Iraq.

Three people were killed when a bomb exploded in the Sadr City slum of eastern Baghdad; gunmen killed an Iraqi soldier in southern Baghdad; and a roadside bomb in the northern city of Mosul killed an Iraqi soldier, police and hospital officials said. …

Mixed feelings

Many Iraqis view the U.S. plans to withdraw with mixed feelings — pride that their country is regaining its full sovereignty but also concern that the lull in violence may break and bloodshed return. …

In Sadr City, the stronghold of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, Sheik Suhail al-Akabi described the anniversary as the “ominous day of the invasion,” and called for a demonstration on April 9, the anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, “to call for the departure of the occupying forces.” …

At least 4,386 U.S. military personnel have died in Iraq since the war began, according to an Associated Press count. …

Lower death toll

Last year, 152 American service members died in Iraq, compared to 314 a year earlier, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press using data from the U.S. Defense Department.

The number of troops in Iraq has also dropped significantly since the height of the war in October 2007, when the U.S. had about 170,000 troops in the country. About 95,000 remain, and that number is expected to fall to 50,000 by the end of August under a plan by President Barack Obama to remove all combat troops from the country. All American troops are scheduled to leave by the end of 2011.

According to figures compiled by Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry and released last fall, 85,694 people were killed from the beginning of 2004 to Oct. 31, 2008 and 147,195 were wounded. The figures include Iraqi civilians, military and police but do not cover U.S. military deaths, insurgents, or foreigners, including contractors. And it did not include the first months of the war after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. …

The war in Iraq has cost more than $712 billion, according to the National Priorities Project.


Iraq ‘more peaceful,’ but not stable yet (March 19, 2010) – “All the hard work we’ve done over the past few years has paid off,” one U.S. soldier tells NBC News’ Richard Engel in a discussion about the U.S. military’s role in Iraq. He added that knowing his friends “didn’t die in vain” is a big pay-off. (10:40)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — March 19, 2009

NBC News

Iraq — Six Years After

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that six years after the U.S. invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003 — March 19 in the United States — the end of America’s costly mission was in sight, but the future of Iraq much less clear.

What’s Obama’s Iraq policy?
See if he’s keeping his word

One Response to “Iraq — Seven Years On”
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