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Careful Flooding May Restore Iraq Marshes

21 February 2005 -- Experts say wetlands that once sheltered Marsh Arabs and a host of wildlife in southern Iraq are being partly restored and could offer a haven once again if it is done right.

Speaking in Washington, scientists who recently visited Iraq said water coming into the area from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is unexpectedly clean. They say that means it washes away toxic salts that built up when the area was drained under Saddam Hussein's regime.

Saddam drained more than 90 percent of the 15,000 square kilometer of marshes during his regime, in part to punish the Shi'ite Marsh Arabs who opposed him.