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Children see invasion through Iraqi girl's eyes

In a country untouched by invasion or conflict for more than 60 years, it can be difficult to understand the horrors of war.

But a young Iraqi girl hopes to reach millions of British children with the story of how she and her family survived the coalition invasion of her country.

Thura Al-Windawi was a 19-year-old pharmacology student when the Americans and British invaded Iraq in March last year.

Encouraged by British and American journalists, she kept a diary of her experiences and feelings as she watched her home city of Baghdad fall under the weight of the West's military might.

Her chronicle, called Thura's diary, a young girl's life in war-torn Baghdad, will be published next month on the first anniversary of the invasion.

Thura writes about her fears for her safety, uncertainty over the future and whether she will ever see her friends again as they scatter throughout the region to escape the bombing of the capital.

Though her family survive, she experiences for the first time the death of a close friend, who was killed trying to save others.

The teenager also describes her fascination with seeing close-up for the first time an American soldier.

Thura writes: "He had beautiful sunglasses, and when I got close I could see he was really handsome. Will we and the American ever come to understand each other? Will I be able to talk to that soldier one day, who's free to go wherever he likes in my country now?"

Thura, who is now 20, lived in England briefly in the 1980s when her father studied at Reading university, and attended Upper Redland school, in Reading. She is studying pharmacology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Thura's diary is published by Puffin Books, March 4, pound;4.99

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