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Hands of Victory, Baghdad, Iraq
3318'20"N 4422'56"E

Hands of Victory Monument

To celebrate his "victory" over Iran, Saddam decided to build a Triumphal Arch. The concept of a triumphal arch is a European import, without precedent in the Middle East since Roman times. The colossal Hands of Victory monument has dominated Baghdad's skyline since the end of the Iran-Iraq war. Built in duplicate, it marks the entrances to a large new parade ground in central Baghdad, towering 140 feet above the highway. The triumphal arch is shaped as two pairs of crossed swords, made from the guns of dead Iraqi soldiers that were melted and recast as the 24-ton blades of the swords. Captured Iranian helmets are in a net held between the swords. And surrounding the base of the arms are another 5,000 Iranian helmets taken from the battle field. The fists that hold the swords aloft are replicas of Saddam Hussein's own hands. The German company that built the monument, H+H Metalform, said it was given a photograph of Saddam's own forearms to use as a model. When Saddam inaugurated these triumphal arches, he rode under them on a white horse - an allusion to the steed of Hussein, the Shi'ite Muslim hero martyred at nearby Kerbala. The day before the first bombing run on Bhagdad during the 1991 Gulf War, Iraqi TV showed a mass of Iraqi soldiers marching beneath the huge crossed swords of the Victory Arch, to the theme music from 'Star Wars'. In April 1998 Iraq's "volunteer army" paraded for six hours in Baghdad's "Grand Festivities Square," the large outdoor arena marked by the two sets of enormous crossed swords

The monument was scheduled to be destroyed by allied bombing during the last days of of Desert Storm, but was spared due to a legal opinion that the monument was protected under provisions of the Law of War.

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Imagery of the Hands of Victory Monument, Baghdad
Click on the small image to view a larger version

DigitalGlobe imagery of the Hands of Victory Parade Ground and surrounding area.

The multi-lane parade route is 50 meters wide and 650 meters in length or about four tenths of a mile long. From the ground the parade ground looks very impressive. However an overhead view shows that it is in fact, a highway to nowhere, and more closely resembles a Hollywood set or a Potempkin village. Its purpose is to display military pagentry for international and domestic propaganda purposes.

Close-up of the reviewing stand.

Three helicopter landing pads, for use by senior Iraqi leadership.

A close-up of one of the Triumphal Arches.

An air defense site nearby. Defensive vehicle positions nearby might be intended for missile launchers or anti-aircraft guns

A close-up of a radar van atop a man-made earthen berm. There are no missiles or anti-aircraft guns visible.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:48:21 ZULU