Image 1 of 11: All's fair in love & war: A country's history and future can go up in smoke when love, or indeed war, takes over. Iraq's unique cultural heritage could not weather the desert storm. Key damaged goods so far: the National Library, the National Museum and a slew of national property, beyond Saddam Hussein’s infamous looted castle.
Image 1 of 11: 2006 & 2007 bombing of the Al-Askari Mosque and Shrine Complex in Samarra: The ancient city of Samarra and UNESCO-named World Heritage Site was not immune to terror. Home to one of the Shia faith's most sacred mosques, this was also the site of civil war. Intercommunal violence blasted off here with the bombing of Askari mosque's golden dome.
Image 1 of 11: Trenches on Babylon? Helipads and bomb craters at Ur: Coalition missiles fired within range of cultural heritage sites and troops strayed into cultural sites for military purposes. Co-lateral damage from machine gun fire apparently struck the side of the formidable step-pyramid and fortress "Ziggurat of Ur" (present-day Tell Maqayyar).
Image 1 of 11: Baghdad bombs go for bust: The bust of Abu Jafar Mansoor, founder of Baghdad, was destroyed in a bomb blast in 2005. While the culprits are unknown, some accuse Mansoor of persecuting Shia Alawis, possibly motivating crimes against a statue. Still, Mansoor's wreckage united sects in lament as it is said to embody the glory of Arab nationalism.
Image 1 of 11: Lopping off heads or mosque domes was part of the war-scape of Iraq. While many would agree on sacking Saddam Hussein from post, we're not so pleased with the sacking of great shrines or museums. The top of the tower of a Abu Hanifa Shrine shrine took the brunt of a US rocket in 2003. The minaret served Iraqi snipers as a look-out.
Image 1 of 11: A minaret with a view: Religion, traditionally the last sanctuary and refuge, got no special treatment in Iraq's chaos. Mosque towers served nicely as sniper watch points for both sides in tit-for-tat. Minaret al-Malwiya, the huge spiraling bulwark, of the Great Mosque of Samarra (once the world's largest mosque) was bombed as a US look-out post.
Image 1 of 11: No love lost when marriage turned to funeral: The Al Dujail wedding massacre saw fifteen men recently sentenced to death in Iraq for mass rape and murder at the 2006 matrimony. An al-Qaeda affiliated group killed about 70 guests at this fateful wedding party.
Image 1 of 11: Death tolls in Iraq since 2003 have been a constant, and car bombs and suicide attacks have jammed the world news wires. The 2007 Yazidi (Kurdish speaking sect) communities suicide bombings in Qahtaniya & Jazeera, near Mosul took 796 lives, devastating 1,562 others making this the Iraq War's most deadly car bomb attack.
Image 1 of 11: Family nightmare: Death tolls in Iraq might be markedly down on figures from 2006 and 2007, when the country was in its peak of violence. But the loss of human life is still felt strongly, with over 140 people killed in the last month alone. Seven members of the same family, with anti-al-Qaeda links, were murdered in Baghdad last week.
Image 1 of 11: As the dust settles: Cancer via deadly particles travels from Basra to Baghdad by sandstorm. Depleted Uranium in weaponry leaves behind a ghastly legacy that will scar the Iraqis for years to come. US troops may have withdrawn, but the horrors have not receded as newborns show defects - a stinging reminder of the lasting damage to Mesopotamia.
Image 1 of 11: A slippery slope: Iraq is pumping out oil but where is the revenue is flowing? Iraq wants to be the world's largest oil producer and current output is the highest since Saddam sanctions. Profits are yet to trickle down to the people of Iraq, and state-coffers need to be investing in a new stable country.
While we home in on Arab Spring strife, the Syria conflict and Gaza crisis, as well as Egypt's re-ignited revolution itch, it is tempting to forget that Iraq is still not out of the woods yet. Invasion, occupation, and full-blown civil war have taken their toll on a haguard community who are yet to mend the mess from sanction-drained Saddam Hussein times, let alone rebuild their reality following the terrible 2003 Iraq War, which drags on into a new decade.
Iraq is a country today of war-scarred people who are still no closer to regaining any semblance of security than they were during the first and second Gulf Wars. Their war wounds are mentally and physically indelible. From munition-induced mutations to shell-shock and despair at the utter break-down in intercommunal relations, their shatted lives are matched by a butchered heritage that cannot be recovered. They have lost more than loved ones and peace, but also ancient shrines, mosques and museums.
Sacred tombs have been the charged battlegrounds of sectarian blood-letting. Libraries have been looted, museums and archaeological treasures sacked, and state coffers have been thieved. Multiple tragic flashpoints of wreckage abound nation-wide; from Fallujah's suspected white phospherous or depleted uranium cancerous legacy, to a broken Basra wracked by occupation, and the sorry besieged Baghdad - a capital without an operational infrastructure.
The survivors of Iraq are left to pick up the pieces of a paradise eroded and all but lost.
Many have blood on their hands, from the war time coalition forces to local militant mafias ever since. Americans, Sunnis and Shias - all seem to have had a hand in collaborating to destroy this cradle of civilization that is now but a shadow of the great Mesopotamia.
Car bombs - not ancient libraries or biblical landmarks- have become the byline for Iraq, and Baghdad like the Beirut of long-time civil war will need to be nursed back to health and prosperity.
Have your say - Have you forgotten about Iraq's suffering - or do you even suffer from Iraq news fatigue? Do you think the violence will cease any time soon? Can the Iraqis recover from the damage to their land and archaelogy?