After Looting, Burning, Iraqi Archive Makes Comeback

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In the weeks after the U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, the charred, partly gutted Iraqi National Library and Archive became a symbol of the chaos and lawlessness that swept through the capital.

During a three-day rampage, looters pillaged and burned the building, stealing hundreds of rare, centuries-old Islamic documents and texts. Fire, smoke and water damaged much of what remained.

Mounir Bouchenaki, the deputy director-general of the U.N. cultural body Unesco called it "a catastrophe for the cultural heritage of Iraq."

Now, on the brink of the first anniversary of Saddam Hussein's death, and some four years since it was looted, the library's recovery is exceeding even the most optimistic predictions.

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