Damage to Baghdad during the Iraq War

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The city of Baghdad suffered significant damage during the Iraq War.

The population of Baghdad is around 7 million people.[1]

In October 2003, a joint United Nations/World Bank team conducted an assessment of funding needs for reconstruction in Iraq during the period 2004-2007.[2] A similar study conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics Iraqi cooperation with the United Nations and is based on surveys conducted in 2004 that 1/3 of Iraqis live in poverty, in spite of the rich natural resources of the country.[3]

Al-Askari Mosque[edit]

The Mosque in 2006 after the first bombing

The Al-Askari Mosque was bombed twice, over two years.

On February 22, 2006, at 6:55 a.m. local time (0355 UTC) explosions occurred at the mosque, effectively destroying its golden dome and severely damaging the mosque. Several men belonging to Iraqi Sunni insurgent groups affiliated with Al-Qaida, one wearing a military uniform, had earlier entered the mosque, tied up the guards there and set explosives, resulting in the blast. Two bombs were set off[4][5] by five[6] to seven[7] men dressed as personnel of the Iraqi Special forces[8] who entered the shrine during the morning.[9]

At around 8 a.m. on 13 June 2007, operatives belonging to al-Qaeda destroyed the two remaining 36 m (118 ft)-high golden minarets flanking the dome's ruins. No fatalities were reported. Iraqi police have reported hearing "two nearly simultaneous explosions coming from inside the mosque compound at around 8 a.m."[10] A report from state run Iraqiya Television stated that "local officials said that two mortar rounds were fired at the two minarets."[10]

As of April 2009, the golden dome and the minarets have been restored and the shrine reopened to visitors.[11]


During the Gulf War of 1991 aerial bombardment caused severe damage to the electric grid that operated the pumping stations and other facilities for potable water delivery and sewage treatment. The sanctions imposed by the UN at the conclusion of the Gulf War exacerbated these problems by banning the importation of spare parts for equipment and chemicals, such as chlorine, needed for disinfection.

The invasion of Iraq produced further degradation of Iraq's water supply, sewerage and electrical supply systems. Treatment plants, pumping stations and generating stations were stripped of their equipment, supplies and electrical wiring by looters. The once-capable cadre of engineers and operating technicians were scattered or left the country. Reconstruction efforts faced a nation with a severely degraded infrastructure.

In the hot summer of 2004, electricity was only available intermittently in most areas of the city. According to a member of Paul Bremer's staff[citation needed], the problems with electricity were exacerbated by a surge in the use of air conditioners.

Baghdad continues to suffer regular rolling power outages.

Baghdad Zoo[edit]

Within eight days following the 2003 invasion, only 35 of the 700 animals in the Baghdad Zoo survived. This was a result of theft of some animals for human food, and starvation of caged animals that had no food or water.[12] Survivors included larger animals like lions, tigers, and bears.[12] Notwithstanding the chaos brought by the invasion, South African Lawrence Anthony and some of the zoo keepers cared for the animals and fed the carnivores with donkeys they had bought locally.[12][13]


Traffic problems in Baghdad have increased significantly since the 2003 invasion, credited to the formation of the Green Zone blocking roads, and new laws about automobile ownership.[14] The Baghdad Metro completely stopped service until October 2008.[14]


Three of Baghdad's 13 bridges over the Tigris river have been targeted by large explosions.[15][16] The Al-Sarafiya bridge was destroyed when an abandoned truck bomb exploded on April 12, 2007.[17] At least 10 people were killed and 26 injured, though there were reports of 20 more trapped in cars that had gone off the bridge.[18]


Haifa street, as seen from the Medical City Hospital across the Tigris River

Before the invasion there were 1200 working waste collection trucks. Most of the vehicles were destroyed or lost in the looting that seized the capital after the American invasion. The deputy mayor of Baghdad estimates the city needs 1,500 waste collection vehicles.[19]

Buses bombed during the 17 August 2005 Baghdad bombings

National Museum of Iraq[edit]

At the National Museum of Iraq, which had been a virtual repository of treasures from the ancient Mesopotamian cultures as well as early Islamic culture, many of the 170,000 irreplaceable artifacts were either stolen or broken (partially found safe and well later).[citation needed] On April 14, The Iraq National Library and National Archives were burned down, destroying thousands of manuscripts from civilizations dating back as far as 7,000 years.[20]


As the American forces secured control of the capital, Iraqi civilians immediately began looting the palaces, as well as government offices. At the important Yarmuk Hospital, not only all beds, but absolutely all its medical equipment, both large and small, was stolen.[citation needed] One other hospital managed to keep on functioning in a manner by organizing local civilians as armed guards.

Serious looting was described at National Museum of Iraq, the Iraqi Museum of Modern Art, the University of Baghdad, three five-star hotels: the Al Rasheed Hotel, the Al-Mansour and Babel Hotel, state-owned supermarkets, many embassies, and state-owned factories.[21] Some 8,500 paintings and sculptures were looted.[22] By 2010, only 1,500 of the most important works had been returned.[23]

In addition to looting, a number of public monuments were also destroyed. Two important public sculptures were dismantled in the aftermath of the US invasion of 2003; one was the statue of Abu Jafar al-Mansur, the 8th-century Abbasid Caliph and founder of Baghdad and the other was the fountain known Nasb al-Maseera (or the March of the Ba'ath) formerly in Mathaf Square, both dismantled in October, 2005.[24] The art historian, Nada Shabout, notes that the destruction of Iraqi art in the period after 2003, assumed both tangible and intangible forms. Not only were the artworks and art institutions looted or destroyed, but art production also suffered from the lack of availability of art materials and the loss of many intellectuals, including artists, who were forced into exile. The Ministry of Culture has estimated that more than 80 percent of all Iraqi artists are now living in exile.[25] This contributed to an environment that failed to nurture artists, and saw young, upcoming artists operating in a void.[26]


A nighttime curfew was imposed on the city immediately after the invasion. It was re-imposed for a whole weekend curfew during 2006,[27] and for one night during the 2010 Iraq election.[28]

Buildings Damaged[edit]


According to GlobalSecurity.org, the Republican Palace (Iraq) and the Al Sijoud Palace were both reported damaged but unharmed.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Estimates of total population differ substantially. The Encyclopædia Britannica gives a 2001 population of 4,950,000, the 2006 Lancet Report states a population of 6,554,126 in 2004.
    • "Baghdad." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 13 November 2006.
    • ""Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey"" (PDF). (242 KiB). By Gilbert Burnham, Riyadh Lafta, Shannon Doocy, and Les Roberts. The Lancet, October 11, 2006
    • Baghdad Archived 2010-03-08 at the Wayback Machine from GlobalSecurity.org
  2. ^ "UN/World Bank Joint Iraq Needs Assessment October 2003" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2006-05-18. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
  3. ^ [chrome://browser/content/browser.xul "ثلث سكان العراق فقراء وسياسات اقتصاد السوق الحر تفاقم مستوى الحرمان"] Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 2010-04-26.
  4. ^ "Explosion destroys Shiite shrine golden dome". Ireland On-Line. Archived from the original on February 21, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2006.
  5. ^ "Bombers strike Shia mausoleum in Iraq". IBN Live. Archived from the original on February 21, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2006.
  6. ^ Knickmeyer, Ellen (February 23, 2006). "Bombing Shatters Mosque In Iraq". WashingtonPost.com. Archived from the original on February 21, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2006.
  7. ^ "Blast destroys golden dome of Iraq's shrine". HindustanTimes.com. Archived from the original on February 21, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2006.
  8. ^ Knight, Sam (February 22, 2006). "Bombing of Shia shrine sparks wave of retaliation". TimesOnline.com. London. Archived from the original on February 21, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2006.
  9. ^ "Iraqi shrine bombing spurs wave of sectarian reprisals". CBC News. February 22, 2006. Archived from the original on February 21, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2006.
  10. ^ a b Graham Bowley (2007-06-13). "Minarets on Shiite Shrine in Iraq Destroyed in Attack". New York Times. Archived from the original on 2018-03-30. Retrieved 2017-08-22.
  11. ^ Bombed Iraq shrine reopens to visitors Archived 2009-05-19 at WebCite
  12. ^ a b c "The Choice, featuring Lawrence Anthony". BBC radio 4. 2007-09-04. Archived from the original on 2008-06-28. Retrieved 2007-09-04.
  13. ^ Anthony, Lawrence; Spence Grayham (2007-06-03). Babylon's Ark; The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo. Thomas Dunne Books. ISBN 0-312-35832-6.
  14. ^ a b "Baghdad Metro - The Digital Journalist". Archived from the original on 2010-10-11. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
  15. ^ "Insurgents target Baghdad bridges". Archived from the original on 2011-06-05. Retrieved 2010-04-23. Three of Baghdad's 13 bridges over the Tigris river have been targeted by large explosions
  16. ^ "ReliefWeb » Document » Iraqis fear "bridge wars" is plot to divide Baghdad". Archived from the original on 2008-04-22. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
  17. ^ "Explosion targets Baghdad bridge". BBC News. 2007-04-12. Archived from the original on 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2007-08-02.
  18. ^ "Suicide truck bomb collapses Baghdad bridge". MSNBC. 2007-04-12. Archived from the original on 2007-09-06. Retrieved 2007-08-02.
  19. ^ "NYTimes 10/11/06". Archived from the original on 2007-03-21. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
  20. ^ Eskander, Saad. "The Tale of Iraq's 'Cemetery of Books' " (cover story), in: Information Today; Dec 2004, Vol. 21, issue 11, p. 1-54; 5 pl, 1 color
  21. ^ Collier, Robert (2003-04-12). "Looters shake Iraqi cities / CHAOS: Troops watch as Baghdad is ransacked - SFGate". The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2010-04-10.
  22. ^ Sabrah,S.A. and Ali, M.," Iraqi Artwork Red List: A Partial List of the Artworks Missing from the National Museum of Modern Art, Baghdad, Iraq, 2010, pp 4-5; Schmidt, M.S., "Mohammed Ghani Hikmat, Iraqi Sculptor, Dies at 82," [Obituary], New York Times, 21 September 2011, Online:https://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/21/arts/design/mohammed-ghani-hikmat-iraqi-sculptor-dies-at-82.html Archived 2011-09-25 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ King, E.A. and Levin, G., Ethics and the Visual Arts, Skyhorse Publishing, 2010, p. 109
  24. ^ Shabout, N., "The 'Free' Art of Occupation: Images for a 'New' Iraq," Arab Studies Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 3/4, 2006, pp. 41-53; "Mosque blast blow to Iraq treasures," Aljazeera, Online: Archived 2018-11-16 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ Art AsiaPacific Almanac, Volume 4, Art AsiaPacific, 2009, p. 75
  26. ^ Shabout, N., "Ghosts of Futures Past: Iraqi Culture in a State of Suspension," in Denise Robinson, Through the Roadbloacks: Realities in Raw Motion, [Conference Reader], School of Fine Arts, Cyprus University, 23–25 November, pp 94-95
  27. ^ "Total curfew in force in Baghdad". BBC. 30 September 2006. Archived from the original on 16 January 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  28. ^ "Vote count begins in Iraq election". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 2010-03-10. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
  29. ^ "Church Times - Baghdad church damaged". Archived from the original on 2012-02-25. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
  30. ^ Pike, John. "Iraqi Leadership Targets - Bomb Damage Assessment, Baghdad, Iraq". GlobalSecurity.org. Archived from the original on 2009-09-03. Retrieved 2010-04-26. The Republican Palace