Last week marked the 13th anniversary of when UN inspectors agreed to enter Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction the US said were being massed and readied by former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
From Nov 27, 2002 until March 2003, inspectors poured over 900 surveys at 500 different sites and turned up nothing. Nevertheless, US troops stormed into the country weeks later on March 19, beginning an occupation that would usher Iraq into a new, wildly unpredictable era defined by the shaky government of Nouri al-Maliki and seething sectarian strife.
We’ve already seen the more public signs of that 2002 move—Daesh’s sweeping rise to power and the disintegration of the Iraqi army, to name a few. Its death toll, meanwhile, has been harder to pin down. A 2013 count based off research from the US, Canada and Baghdad estimated some 500,000 had been killed in violence and other side effects of the conflict since 2003. And that was before Daesh (ISIS) rose to power in Mosul.
But more than a decade later, the US invasion transformed Iraq in other ways. Perhaps most obviously seen in infrastructure and landmarks that once defined the country.
Pre-war images of areas across Baghdad and other Iraqi cities are almost unrecognizable when compared with the same site post-conflict, reminding us just how much has changed since that November day back in 2002.
Have a look at the comparisons below. Via AFP and Twitter.
Samarra city, Iraq
Samarra Mosque, Samara city, Iraq
Tigris River, Iraq
By Elizabeth Tarbell
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