Read us | Listen to us | Watch us | Join Live Events | Turn Off Ads | Live |

Click on your language to translate this article:

Afrikaans Afrikaans Albanian Albanian Amharic Amharic Arabic Arabic Armenian Armenian Azerbaijani Azerbaijani Basque Basque Belarusian Belarusian Bengali Bengali Bosnian Bosnian Bulgarian Bulgarian Catalan Catalan Cebuano Cebuano Chichewa Chichewa Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Traditional) Chinese (Traditional) Corsican Corsican Croatian Croatian Czech Czech Danish Danish Dutch Dutch English English Esperanto Esperanto Estonian Estonian Filipino Filipino Finnish Finnish French French Frisian Frisian Galician Galician Georgian Georgian German German Greek Greek Gujarati Gujarati Haitian Creole Haitian Creole Hausa Hausa Hawaiian Hawaiian Hebrew Hebrew Hindi Hindi Hmong Hmong Hungarian Hungarian Icelandic Icelandic Igbo Igbo Indonesian Indonesian Irish Irish Italian Italian Japanese Japanese Javanese Javanese Kannada Kannada Kazakh Kazakh Khmer Khmer Korean Korean Kurdish (Kurmanji) Kurdish (Kurmanji) Kyrgyz Kyrgyz Lao Lao Latin Latin Latvian Latvian Lithuanian Lithuanian Luxembourgish Luxembourgish Macedonian Macedonian Malagasy Malagasy Malay Malay Malayalam Malayalam Maltese Maltese Maori Maori Marathi Marathi Mongolian Mongolian Myanmar (Burmese) Myanmar (Burmese) Nepali Nepali Norwegian Norwegian Pashto Pashto Persian Persian Polish Polish Portuguese Portuguese Punjabi Punjabi Romanian Romanian Russian Russian Samoan Samoan Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic Serbian Serbian Sesotho Sesotho Shona Shona Sindhi Sindhi Sinhala Sinhala Slovak Slovak Slovenian Slovenian Somali Somali Spanish Spanish Sudanese Sudanese Swahili Swahili Swedish Swedish Tajik Tajik Tamil Tamil Telugu Telugu Thai Thai Turkish Turkish Ukrainian Ukrainian Urdu Urdu Uzbek Uzbek Vietnamese Vietnamese Welsh Welsh Xhosa Xhosa Yiddish Yiddish Yoruba Yoruba Zulu Zulu

Iraq sees first Western tour group since Saddam fell

0a_0
0a_0
Written by editor

BAGHDAD – Iraq has received its first group of Western tourists since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry said on Thursday.

BAGHDAD – Iraq has received its first group of Western tourists since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry said on Thursday.

The group of eight holidaymakers — five Britons, two Americans and a Canadian — arrived on March 8 and toured Iraq’s landmark historic sites, including the Biblical city of Babylon, fabled home to the Hanging Gardens.

Their three week trip was organized by a British adventure tour operator, ministry spokesman Abdul-Zahra al-Telagani said, but he declined to name the company.

“This is the first group since the regime’s fall,” he said. “We expect these tourists will convey a positive message to their citizens back home that the situation in Iraq is good.”

Their itinerary included the Castle of Arbil — a relic of the medieval Ottoman empire in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region — as well as the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh, in Mosul, a dangerous city still crawling with Sunni Arab insurgents.

They visited the al-Askari mosque in Samarra, one of the holiest sites of Shi’ite Islam, whose devastation in a bomb attack in 2006 unleashed a wave of sectarian violence that brought Iraq to the brink of civil war.

In the south, the tourists saw the holy Shi’ite shrines of Kerbala and Najaf, which are already popular with religious pilgrims from Iran, and the southern oil-hub Basra.

They will finish up this weekend with a visit to the Iraqi National Museum. The building was re-opened last month for the first time since looters pillaged it after the U.S.-led invasion.

Iraq, part of a region known as the cradle of civilization, has countless archaeological and religious sites but decades of war have shut the doors to foreign tourist groups.