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Sadr City (Saddam City/Al Thawra)
Baghdad, Iraq

Once known as Saddam City, then as Al Thawra, Sadr City is named for the Imam Mohammed Sadr, an Iraqi religious leader killed by Saddam Hussein. Many residents still call it Al Thawra, meaning "Revolution City."

Subdivided into six sections, the district is one of the poorest in Baghdad. The population consists mostly of Shiite Moslems. Unemployment is rampant. Homes are in disrepair. It is also a haven for criminals released from Iraqi prisons by Saddam shortly before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sadr City, built by Saddam Hussein, was the scene of numerous confrontations between coalition forces and residents in 2003. Infrastructure problems still plague portions of the district. Electrical services are intermittent. Parts of some streets in some neighborhoods are flooded with sewage from long-neglected pipes. Trash pickup stopped during the war, and residents started dumping their trash on the medians in the potholed streets.

The centerpiece of Sadr City is the municipal building. According to reports from Iraqi guards and unit translators, Saddam ordered that the Sadr City municipal building be constructed, gave one speech from the balcony of the new building and then never set foot in that low-income district again.

When US forces arrived in the district in June 2003, looters had stripped the building of everything -- even its wiring, plumbing, and marble stairs. After hauling away anything of value, they torched what was left, leaving a burned shell of a building. US soldiers assessed the building's condition, determined what repairs were needed, and hired contractors to make repairs. After $30,000 in repairs, Sadr City's 30-member district advisory council met regularly in the once-gutted building. In mid-November 2003, the head of the US-appointed interim council in Sadr City was killed in a confrontation with US forces outside the municipal building.

In early April 2004, coalition troops fought gun battles with members of Muqtada al-Sadr's Imam Al-Mahdi Army militia in Sadr City, as well as in Al-Nassiriyah, Amara, Karbala, Basra, and Kut. On Sunday, April 4, 2004, at approximately 5 p.m., militia supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr attacked the central municipal building, housing the District Advisory Council, as well as two police stations. Coalition troops arrived soon thereafter, followed by a tank company, Apache helicopters and OH-58 Kiowas at approximately 9pm. Coalition forces wrested the municipal building and police headquarters from milita control, and the fighting finally abated around midnight.

Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq
Click on the small image to view a larger version
NIMA City Map of Baghdad. On this pre-war map, Sadr city is labelled with its old name, Saddam City. Landsat imagery showing location of Sadr City at the northeastern edge of Baghdad.
Overview of Sadr City as of Nov. 03, 2002. (Source: DigitalGlobe) Sadr City's neighborhoods are tightly packed, with an estimated 2 million people living in an area of 8 square miles (about 20 sq.km). (Source: DigitalGlobe, 11/03/02)
A mosque in northeastern Sadr City. (Source: DigitalGlobe, 11/03/02) Typical Sadr City street, where a coalition tank company arrived as troops clashed with local supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr. (Source: DigitalGlobe, 11/03/02)
Sadr City municipal building (Source: DigitalGlobe, 11/03/02) The Sadr City municipal complex includes a soccer field and a 50-meter swimming pool with a diving board. (Source: DigitalGlobe, 11/03/02)

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