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BAGHDAD: The dimly lit, dust-caked stacks of the Baghdad National Library hide a treasure of the ages: crinkled, yellowing papers holding the true stories of sultans and kings; imperialists and socialists; occupation and liberation; war and peace.These are the original chronicles of Iraq's rich and tumultuous history. Technicians sterilize manuscripts and documents for 48 hours, cleaning them of accumulated dust and other impurities.At the start of the 2003 U.S.-led occupation, when chaos gripped the capital, arsonists set fire to the library, destroying 25 percent of its books and some 60 percent of its archives, including priceless Ottoman records.Around 400,000 pages of documents – some dating back to the Ottoman period – and 4,000 rare books were damaged this way.In recent months, the library donated some 2,500 books to libraries in Iraq's Diyala province after Iraqi forces recaptured towns there from ISIS militants.
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