Continued from page 2

Work on the shrine is partially obscured by 12-foot concrete barriers that U.S. troops erected to protect against further attacks. Iraqi national police guard the complex’s entrances and secure the dingy, sparsely peopled marketplace around it.

“The mosque is simply the economic lifeblood of the place,” Capt. Juan Garcia said. “Samarra is a mosque with a city, not a city with a mosque.”