BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Snow fell on Baghdad on Friday for the first time in memory, and delighted residents declared it an omen of peace.
"It is the first time we've seen snow in Baghdad," said 60-year-old Hassan Zahar. "We've seen sleet before, but never snow. I looked at the faces of all the people, they were astonished," he said.
"A few minutes ago, I was covered with snowflakes. In my hair, on my shoulders. I invite all the people to enjoy peace, because the snow means peace," he said.
Traffic policeman Murtadha Fadhil, huddling under a balcony to keep dry, declared the snow "a new sign of the new Iraq."
"It's a sign of hope. We hope Iraqis will purify their hearts and politicians will work for the prosperity of all Iraqis."
The streets of the capital were largely empty as big, thick, wet flakes fell on Friday morning, a weekend day in Iraq. The temperature hovered around freezing and the snow mostly melted into grey puddles when it hit the ground.
But it was still lovely, said Mohanned Rahim, a baker: "This snow will bring pleasure to the people of Iraq. It's beautiful!"
Reporting by Aws Qusay; writing by Peter Graff