A photo exhibition dedicated to the victims of the Iraq war received a large audience on its opening day in Fallujah on Sunday.
The exhibition is currently being held at the martyr’s cemetery, where 2,500 people are buried. The venue was once a sports club until its transformation in 2005.
The commemorative event coincided with the withdrawal of U.S. troops, nine years after the invasion of Iraq which saw the ouster of former president Saddam Hussein.
Fallujah served as a base for Iraqi forces in 2003, and was the location of two major conflicts the following year.
Hundreds of Iraqis were killed and thousands forced to leave their homes during the bitter conflict.
“These photos are the best expression of 400 martyrs and 1200 unidentified bodies. There are families who were all killed, six members from one family or all the family,” said one person attending the exhibit.
While Iraqis feel a sense of sovereignty, they still fear their country slipping into sectarian violence which was at its peak between 2006 and 2007.
Despite the recent decrease in suicide bombings, rivaling Sunni and Shiite militants continue frequent attacks, usually targeting the government and security forces.
On the political front, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s administration is seen as fragile and he is accused by rival groups for the centralization of power.