A Syrian policeman patrols the ancient oasis city of Palmyra in March. Many Syrian antiquities have been looted and smuggled out of the country during the past three years of civil war. Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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The Beirut Holiday Inn rises behind the man who built it, Abdal Mohsin Kattan, in 1975. The Holiday Inn was one of the leading hotels in Beirut at a time when it was the most glamorous city in the Middle East. But when the Lebanese civil war broke out in 1975, the hotel was fiercely contested by rival militias. Lebanese are still debating what to do with the building. Thomas J. Abercrombie/National Geographic/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Thomas J. Abercrombie/National Geographic/Getty Images

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki votes in Baghdad on April 30. Maliki's alliance won the most seats in election results announced this week. But his party will still have to build a coalition with rival parties for him to keep the job he's had for the past eight years. AP hide caption

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An Iraqi schoolgirl passes a banner supporting a proposal that, among other things, would allow men to marry girls as young as 9. Opponents say it would mark a major setback for women and children. The Arabic on the banner reads: "The Jaafari Personal Status Law saves my rights and my dignity." Karim Kadim/AP hide caption

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A man walks past a huge election poster in Baghdad promoting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (center) and his political allies. Maliki has ruled for eight years and is seeking another four years. Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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