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Dublin: 17 °C Thursday 13 August, 2020

10 years ago today: Saddam's statue topples in Baghdad

It was on April 9, 2003, that the 12-metre-tall statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down from Firdos Square.

(YouTube: King Garcia)

TEN YEARS AGO today marked one of the most iconic moments in the fall of Baghdad and the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime: the fall of a giant statue of the former Iraqi president.

On April 9, 2003, a 12-metre-tall figure of Hussein standing in Firdos Square was removed by a US Marine Corps armoured vehicle – dragged down by a vehicle mobbed by overjoyed Iraqi children.

The toppling of the statue was caught live on film by several TV networks and broadcast live around the world, making the event one of the more widely-remembered symbols of the US invasion of Iraq and the end of Hussein’s 24-year grip on power.

It also served as a symbol to the Iraqi public that Hussein’s regime was indeed falling. Many had been unsure about the extent of the invasion’s ‘success’, given insistences by Muhammad Seed al-Sahhaf – the information minister dubbed ‘Comical Ali’ – that Iraq had been successfully repelling the invaders.

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A minor PR disaster followed when a US marine decided to place an American flag over the face of the statue – a move which saw the raucous crowd fall silent. The flag was shortly replaced with an Iraqi one which had been appropriated by another Marine.

It was later reported that the Marines at the event had instigated the decision to remove the statue, but used loudspeakers to encourage Iraqi civilians to join in – giving the image that the plundering of the statue was a civilian-inspired event.

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Gavan Reilly

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