In the eight years between invasion and withdrawal, more than 110,000 people suffered violent deaths as direct result of the Iraq conflict. Some estimates put that number at over a million. Hundreds of thousands of civilians and former combatants also suffered injury during the war, both physical and psychological. When the coalition finally withdrew in 2011, no significant weapons of mass destruction had been located, but Saddam Hussein's regime had been replaced by elected representatives. A mostly Sunni-led insurgency flared up, challenging the new government and security forces. Trillions of dollars were spent and millions of lives were affected, but the Iraqis are still struggling to find their post-war footing as near-constant violence hampers any efforts to move beyond poverty and pain. Ten years later, we look back in a three-part series. Today's entry focuses on the period from 2011 to present-day.
This Wednesday, March 13, 2013 photo shows a view of Firdos Square at the site of an Associated Press photograph taken by Jerome Delay as the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down by U.S. forces and Iraqis on April 9, 2003. Ten years ago on live television, U.S. Marines memorably hauled down a Soviet-style statue of Saddam, symbolically ending his rule. Today, that pedestal in central Baghdad stands empty. Bent iron beams sprout from the top, and posters of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in military fatigues are pasted on the sides.
(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
Humvees sit parked in a courtyard at Camp Liberty in Baghdad, on September 30, 2011.
Copies of the Quran, Muslims holy book, splattered with blood, at Um al-Qura mosque in Baghdad, Iraq, on August 29, 2011. A suicide bomber blew himself up inside Baghdad's largest Sunni mosque, killing dozens during prayers, a shocking strike on a place of worship similar to the one that brought Iraq to the brink of civil war five years before.
(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
A female taxi driver fetches a passenger in Arbil, about 350 km (220 miles) north of Baghdad, on November 19, 2011. Inspired by the success stories of the ladies' taxis services in Lebanon and Dubai, 25-year old civil engineer Lana Khoshabaan has recently started an all-women taxi firm, in the Kurdish city of Arbil. The black cars, imprinted with the words "PNK TAXI" are dispatched upon calls to pick up female passengers from all parts of Arbil. Currently, only three cars are in operation on two shifts daily.
An Iraqi boy is taken away from a suspected militant, who has been accused of killing his father at the height of the sectarian slaughter in 2006-07, during a presentation to the media at the Interior Ministry in Baghdad, on November 21, 2011. A total of 22 suspected militants were presented to the media as they awaited trial, according to the police.
Soldiers with the 1452nd Combat Heavy Equipment Transportation Company, North Carolina Army National Guard, load an M1 Abrams tank onto the bed of a super heavy equipment transporter tractor-trailer on Contingency Operating Base Adder, on November 4, 2011. The 1452nd loaded two of the 60-ton tanks to transport to Kuwait in support of the U.S. Forces drawdown in Iraq.
(Pvt. Andrew Slovensky/U.S. Army)
U.S. Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles drive through Camp Adder before departing what is now known as Imam Ali Base near Nasiriyah, Iraq December 16, 2011. The last convoy of U.S. soldiers pulled out of Iraq, ending their withdrawal after nearly nine years of war and military intervention that cost almost 4,500 American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives.
Sgt. Aaron Grudich of Oakfield, Wisconsin, walks back to the car with his family after returning from Iraq at the West Bend Armory, on November 19, 2011, in West Bend, Wisconsin. Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 135th General Aviation Support Battalion returned home from Iraq. After 51 weeks, the last Wisconsin National Guard Unit returned home.
(AP Photo/West Bend Daily News, John Ehlke)
The scarred hands of 12-year-old Iraqi Khitam Hamad, photographed as she participated in a class with other young victims of Iraq violence at a program operated by Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), on July 28, 2011 in Amman, Jordan. Khitam, who is from the city of Fallujah, was severely burned following a car bomb when she was walking with her sister. MSF has been running a reconstructive-surgery program for war-wounded Iraqis since August 2006.
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Iraqis throw stones after protesters attacked Iraq's deputy premier Saleh al-Mutlak on December 30, 2012, forcing him to flee a rally he was addressing on the outskirts of the western city of Ramadi, an AFP reporter said. The demonstrators, who blocked a key highway connecting Iraq to Syria and Jordan over the alleged targeting of their Sunni Arab minority by the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, threw water bottles, stones and shoes at Mutlak before grabbing and hitting him.
(Azhar Shallal/AFP/Getty Images)
A suicide bomber in Iraq injured Marine veteran Keith Buckmon, native of Capitol Heights, Maryland, in 2008, resulting in the complete reconstruction of both of his legs and his right arm using bone grafts and metal plates. Buckmon has also struggled with losing the Marines who died during the attack and battles the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder every day. Now, Buckmon is an athlete in the 2013 Marine Corps Trials who competes in seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, seated shot put, discus, and shooting. Buckmon says his wife and two daughters, Damaris Buckmon, Iz'Abella Amaris Buckmon (lower right) and Jy'Zella-leilani Grace Clark, are his motivation to keep pushing to get better because he strives to be a good husband and father. Buckmon has a tattoo on his shoulder that depicts a Purple Heart medal and the date he was injured.
(USMC/Cpl. Tyler L. Main)
Workers attend a training class at LUKOIL training center in Basra, Iraq, on December 25, 2012. Russian oil firm LUKOIL has opened its first training center located in al-Rumaila in the southern city of Basra to develop skilled staff to work in its oilfield. The firm, Russia's second-largest crude producer, won a contract to develop the West Qurna-2 oilfield.
A film crew shoots a scene of an Iraqi film in a street in Baghdad October 18, 2012. The din of power generators, tangle of jury-rigged electric wiring and hassle of security checkpoints are all part of the movie business in Iraq, not to mention the lack of studio space and dearth of experienced crews. War and international sanctions have left most of Iraq's infrastructure and industry in shambles, including the movie industry. But the return of government funding means a new start for many local directors, even if the amounts are small by international standards.
Samar Hassan, 16, looks at a photo of the family car after her family were shot at in 2005, during an interview with Reuters in Mosul, Iraq, on March 6, 2013. (Samar can be seen in a famous photo of the incident in yesterday's entry, photo 19.) Samar, a Turkman from the city of Tel Afar, is one of thousands of Iraqis who have relatives that were killed by U.S. forces, since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Samar said she was sitting in the back seat of the car with her brother and three sisters on their way back from the hospital on January 18, 2005, when a group of U.S. soldiers shot at them, killing her parents on the scene and seriously wounding her brother, Rakan.
Ministry of Health staff carry a wounded colleague during a car bomb attack at the Health Department in Baghdad, on June 4, 2012. A suicide bomber detonated explosives in a car outside Iraq's main religious affairs office for Shiite Muslims, tearing down part of the three-story building, killing and wounding scores of people, police said.
(AP Photo/Adil al-Khazali)
A man stands amid debris after a bomb attack in the Shuala district of Baghdad, on November 28, 2012. Three car bombings killed 23 Shi'ite Muslims during mourning processions in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, police and hospital sources said. The deadliest attack occurred in the Shuala district, where a car bomb parked outside a Shi'ite place of worship exploded as people were leaving the building, killing nine.
Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team outfielder Brian Urruela warms up before their game against the Cooperstown, New York Fire & Police Department team at Abner Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, New York, on May 27, 2012. The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball team is comprised of United States military personnel who lost limbs during their service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bryan Anderson talks about his new book titled "No Turning Back," at his home in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, on October 31, 2011. His story details enlisting with the Army and receiving a deployment date of September 11, 2001, serving two tours in Iraq as a sergeant in the military police, driving over a roadside bomb in his Humvee in October 2005, and recovering for 13 months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he was one of the few triple amputees to survive.
(AP Photo/Daily Herald, Bob Chwedyk)
An Iraqi biker prepares for a ride during a biker show on Abu Nawas street in Baghdad, on October 19, 2012. In some parts of Baghdad, youthful rebellion and American biker style clash with conservative mores, in a country where just a few years ago militias imposed their own radical Islamic views at gunpoint.
An Iraqi security man inspects the wreckage of destroyed vehicles following a bomb attack on the previous day in north Baghdad, on December 18, 2012. The car bomb exploded at a car dealership, killing at least 11 people and wounding at least 40, security and medical officials said, as a wave of attacks targeting both Iraqi security forces and civilians killed 48 people ahead of the first anniversary of the withdrawal of US forces.
(ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)
Ryan Lamke of Washington, sits by the grave of his fellow U.S. Marine, Cpl. Benny G. Cockerham III, in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery Tuesday, on March 19, 2013, in Arlington, Virginia. Lamke visits his friend's grave about once a month. Capt. Tyler Swisher, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Chris Thompson, and Marine Lance Cpl. Kenneth Butler also died with Cocherham when their Humvee was attacked by an improvised explosive device.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
A visitor views pictures of British war veterans photographed by Canadian rock star Bryan Adams during the opening of his exhibition in Duesseldorf, Germany, on February 1, 2013. Adams shows 150 pictures of his photo work like celebrity portraits, but also a series of portraits of injured soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
(AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
A student practices playing the oud at the Institute of Musical Studies in Baghdad, on October 21, 2012. The once quiet courtyards of Baghdad's Institute of Musical Studies, located in the busy Sinak area, where violence was rife during the height of Iraq's sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007, are thriving again as the Iraqi capital enjoys a noticeable ebb in violence. Many of Iraq's most talented musicians fled during the rule of Saddam Hussein, fearing persecution for their political views and suffering from a lack of funding and exposure if they refused to glorify the leader in their art. Now, gingerly, some musicians are making plans to come back, hoping to revive Iraq's rich musical tradition on home soil.
(1 of 2) Matt Ecker points out a bullet hole in the back of his Champion, Ohio home, on April 19, 2012. On a warm summer afternoon in Champion, Michael Ecker, a 25-year-old Iraq war veteran, called out to his father from a leafy spot in their backyard. Then, as the two stood just steps apart, Michael saluted, raised a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.
(2 of 2) Matt and Cheryl Ecker hold a photo of their son, Army veteran Michael Ecker, in Champion, Ohio, April 19, 2012. In 2009, Michael committed suicide, shooting himself in front of his father. Veteran suicides remain a serious problem in the U.S. A recent Veteran's Administration study using data from 21 states between 1999 and 2011 suggested that as many as 22 veterans were killing themselves every day.
Brad Schwarz, with his service dog Panzer, attends a Chicago Cubs game with a group of veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois, on June 14, 2012. Schwarz uses Panzer to help him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) issues related to his 2008 tour in Iraq. In addition to suffering from PTSD Schwarz has memory loss related to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and he must walk with a cane because of vertebrae and nerve damage in his back and legs. Ten days before he was scheduled to rotate home from a 15-month deployment in Iraq, his second, the Humvee in which he was riding was struck by an IED. Of the 5 soldiers riding in the vehicle, which caught fire after the explosion, Schwarz was the only one to survive.
(Scott Olson/Getty Images)
This March 12, 2013 photo shows a view of Abu Nawas park in Baghdad, at the site of a photograph taken by Maya Alleruzzo showing Iraqi orphans playing soccer with a U.S. soldier from the Third Infantry Division in April of 2003. The park that runs along Abu Nawas Street, named after an Arabic poet, is now a popular destination for families who are drawn by the manicured gardens, playgrounds and restaurants famous for a fish called mazgouf. Ten years ago, the park was home to a tribe of children orphaned by the war and was rife with crime.
(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)
This March 14, 2013 photo shows the crossed swords monument at the site of an Associated Press photograph taken by Karim Kadim of U.S. soldiers taken on November 16, 2008. The crossed-sword archways Saddam Hussein commissioned during Iraq's nearly eight-year war with Iran stand defiantly on a little-used parade ground inside the Green Zone, the fortified district that houses the sprawling U.S. Embassy and several government offices. Iraqi officials began tearing down the archways in 2007 but quickly halted those plans and then started restoring the monument two years ago.
(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)