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Iraq's Ancient Babylon To Be Restored

BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi government will invite UNESCO to visit ancient Babylon this month to evaluate damage at the site, parliamentarian Mufid al-Jazaeri told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq.

Al-Jazaeri, former Iraqi culture minister and chairman of parliament's committee on culture and antiquities, said that repairs and reconstruction at the ruins will begin once a report on the extent of the damage is complete.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which is about 100 kilometers south of Baghdad, were built in 600 B.C. and were considered one of the seven wonders of the world.

Al-Jazaeri told RFI that Babylon's ruins sustained heavy damage under Saddam Hussein's regime and during the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 when a portion of the site was used as a military base by coalition forces.

Al-Jazaeri urged that Babylon remain closed to the public until restoration is complete.