BAGHDAD, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- As the U.S. combat troops are leaving Iraq, war-tortured Iraqis are expecting a better life though some say it is still an utopia in the violence-torn country in the near future.
No matter what the future holds, one thing is for sure -- although the majority of the Iraqis don't really like an occupation by foreign troops, they are also unwilling to return to a life similar to that when they were ruled by Saddam Hussein, who was toppled and executed in the U.S.-led war.
Samir Aziz, a 12-year-old Iraqi boy, could not hide his happiness upon hearing that the United States will completely pull out its combat troops from Iraq. But the news also brought back painful memories of the U.S.-led invasion and the miserable life under the rule of Saddam before the war.
"Let them (Americans) go, I will not forgive them for the suffering of my mother and father over the two martyred sisters Sanaa and Suhaad," said Aziz, a Sunni Iraqi, whose two elder sisters were killed by U.S. airstrikes in Fallujah, some 50 km west of Baghdad.
"Several years ago, they destroyed my family's house in Fallujah," Aziz said with tears in his eyes. "My father was very sad, and I can remember my mother was crying and shouting."
Recalling life under the Saddam regime and the U.S. invasion, the boy has mixed feelings like many of his peers.
"I frequently hear from people in Fallujah that they maybe blame Saddam for his faults that brought the country to the brink of the abyss, but many of them wished that his regime's collapse was made by Iraqis, not foreign troops," he said, sounding mature beyond his years.
On March 20, 2003, acting upon false intelligence and the preemptive strike doctrine, the U.S.-led Operation Iraqi Freedom, a war fought to topple the Saddam regime, broke out, marking the beginning of the U.S. military deployment in the country.
One month following the beginning of the invasion, the U.S.-led forces occupied Fallujah in April 2003 and launched another strike to curb rising insurgents in the major Iraqi city in November 2004.
"To me, the incident was just like a dream; I was six years old when a U.S. warplane hit our house and my two sisters were killed inside," Aziz recalled the U.S. airstrikes days before the November 2004 battles of Fallujah.
Fortunately, other members of the family survived "because my mother, two brothers and I were visiting our relatives at a nearby house," he said.
"I, myself, can't forget them (the two killed sisters). They were so kind to me," he said with a tear-stained face.
This February, U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans to end the combat mission and pull out most of the troops by the end of August, yet he will leave about 35,000 to 50,000 soldiers to train Iraqi security forces.
As the U.S. combat mission in Iraq lasted seven years and five months, the U.S. defense department said there have been 4,419 U.S. military deaths since the invasion in 2003.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi people suffered more as the death toll of civilians is estimated at some 100,000 due to the prolonged violence, in addition to numerous injured and property loses.
For most Iraqis, life after the U.S.-led war was hard mainly because of incessant daily violence, both from the occupation forces and rising militants. But life under Saddam's rule wasn't rosy, either.
"I remember my father's salary was not enough for my 7-member family because life under Saddam Hussein's regime was very hard under the 13 years of UN sanctions," he said about his father, who was a government employee.
"I don't remember when he bought me candy or any kind of sweet. He was always angry and unhappy with his living standard," Aziz said.
"When I was a child before the war, I couldn't understand why he was sometimes cool to my late elder sister Sanaa when she once asked him to buy her a school bag," the boy said.
"Now I understand how it was hard and painful for him that he couldn't buy her a new bag because he got little money although he was working hard," Aziz said bitterly.
"I wish I could have done anything for her," Aziz said. "I blame the Saddam regime for the suffering of my family, although my people fought the occupation troops which toppled Saddam."