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Mar 21, 2013 1:59 AM by Rebecca Taylor

Tucson man describes fleeing Iraq 10 years ago

TUCSON - This week marks the 10 year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the start of a war that still divides our nation.

The quick facts: U.S. and allied ground troops moved into Iraq following an air and artillery barrage designed to 'shock and awe' Saddam Hussein's forces.

The ensuing occupation lasted more than eight years, but turned up no sign of the chemical, biological or nuclear weapons the Bush administration claimed was there.

The war cost the U.S. $2.2 trillion and nearly 45-hundred American lives.

Estimates on Iraqi deaths range between 100,000 and 300,000.

A Tucson family who fled the war torn country and established citizenship here, shared their story with News 4 Tucson's Rebecca Taylor.

It was a long journey for Zein Alkinani, he was a political refugee at the start of the war, turned U.S. citizen.

Ten years later bombs are still exploding in Iraq and there's a curfew in Baghdad.

At the Alkinani house in Tucson, the only unrest is playtime as he reads to his two children.

Alkinani says the war in his homeland was worth fighting, for freedom's sake.

"Death everywhere, it was a county with no hope for life," says Alkinani. "We left Iraq because of the Saddam regime."

The removal of Saddam Hussein he says was good for the world.

"With the Saddam regime there's no freedom, no law, he's the law," he says.

In the end democracy prevailed, leaving civil unrest in his home country. Alkinani feels war was the right choice, but the timing wasn't.

"It was a late decision, it was supposed to happen in 1990," says Alkinani.

Today Alkinani works in construction, though his full-time job is being a dad.

His heart belongs to two countries, with a growing family in Tucson and loved ones still in Iraq. His desire for the future?

"I see a better future, but I hope less painful for my people," says Alkinani

Stability and opportunity, that's what lead Alkinani to Tucson. His children, ages 5 and 3 were both born here.

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