EL CAJON, Calif. – Ten years after the United States invaded Iraq, San Diego County is still feeling the effects of the war.
Nawar Abdulrasoul left Iraq three years ago and is one of nearly 50,000 Iraqi war refugees that have made El Cajon their new home. The East County city holds the second largest population of Iraqis in the U.S.
Abdulrasoul said the U.S. military’s invasion did a lot of good, but living conditions for Iraqi civilians didn’t improve, instead they got worse.
“I still remember when Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime was brought down by US troops,” said Abdulrasoul, but acknowledged that the invasion also brought on massive loss of life.
The total count of civilian deaths is officially unknown, some estimates point to well over 100,000 deaths.
“I lost three cousins to bombings,” said Abdulrasoul.
The invasion also cost the lives of more than 4,000 US military men and women, 33 of them from San Diego, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Chula Vista native Dan Rhamy considers himself lucky. He served in Iraq as a U.S. Navy pilot in 2004.
“I count everyday as a gift,” said Rhamy.
Rhamy said looking back, he believes mistakes were made, but stressed the good that’s been done.
“We helped a lot of people and every Iraqi we worked with was grateful we were there,” said Rhamy.
Since the invasion, the U.S. military has pulled out of Iraq completely.
These days insurgence violence continues to take lives almost daily.