The marshes were reborn after the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein.
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In the southern marshlands of Iraq, Firas Fadl steers his boat through tunnels of towering reeds, past floating villages and half-submerged water buffalo in a unique region that seems a world apart from the rest of the arid Middle East. The marshes, a lush remnant of the cradle of civilization, were reborn after the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein when residents dismantled dams he had built a decade earlier to drain the area in order root out Shiite rebels. The government responded by deliberately draining 20,000 square kilometers of wetlands, turning the area to desert and displacing half a million people.Southern Iraq has largely been spared the violence that has gripped other parts of the country, and the marshes were always hundreds of kilometers away from the front lines in the war against Daesh."The Iraqi government did not return the marshes to this state – the people brought back the water," he said. For the region to continue to survive, he said, the government needs to better regulate the use of water in the arid country and work with its neighbors to prevent the construction of more upstream dams in Turkey and Iran.
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