Iraq now


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An Iraqi librarian looks at one of the thousands of books available at the central library in Basra, about 420 km (261 miles) southeast of Baghdad, March 18, 2013. Ten years ago this week, British forces entered Iraq's second city, Basra, as part of the U.S.-led invasion of the country. Known locally as a cultural hero, librarian Alia Baqer moved to rescue the contents of Basra's central library before everything was lost. ''At the beginning of the war on Iraq, the governor (of Basra) took the library over as a headquarters for himself and his guards, mounting machine guns on top of the building. So, we asked the governor if we could take the important books to our homes, but he rejected the idea. Eventually we took the responsibility ourselves to transfer the books, without the governor's approval,'' Baqer said. Baqer moved about 30,000 books out of the city's central library to a neighbouring restaurant and later to her home, before the looting and burning of the library during the first days of the U.S.-invasion of Iraq began. REUTERS/Atef Hassan