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Iraq War Definitions: Baghdad

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The capital of modern Iraq was built as the seat of the Abbasid caliphate in 762. For the next half millennium, it was the center of a thriving Islamic civilization, and home to scholarship, art, poetry and scientific advances that greatly influenced Renaissance Europe. Baghdad's glory came to an end when it was sacked by Mongol invaders in 1258.

Baghdad was ruled by the Ottoman Empire from 16th century until 1917 when, during World War I, it came under British occupation. Following Allied victory in the war, the British joined Baghdad with Basra and Mosul. Together the three provinces became modern Iraq, which achieved independence in 1932. Baghdad in the early 20th century was populated primarily by Sunni and Shiite Muslim Arabs, but also by local Christians and Jews, and foreigners.

Oil wealth turned Baghdad into a wealthy, somewhat freewheeling city with newly modernized infrastructurin the oil rich 1970s. The combination of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war and trade sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s led to the city's decline.

The Iraq War began on March 20, 2003 with U.S. air strikes against Baghdad. On April 9, the city fell to U.S. and Coalition forces. Looting of the Iraqi Museum in the immediate aftermath of the city's fall led to the loss of many archeological artifacts that testified to Baghdad's and the greater area's role in the development of world civilization.

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