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Haider al-Nada, 21, smokes a waterpipe at a cafe in old town Baghdad in late April 2015. A house painter, he says work has slowed in recent months as the local economy has stagnated.

Haider al-Nada, 21, smokes a waterpipe at a cafe in old town Baghdad in late April 2015. A house painter, he says work has slowed in recent months as the local economy has stagnated. (Josh Smith/Stars and Stripes)

Haider al-Nada, 21, smokes a waterpipe at a cafe in old town Baghdad in late April 2015. A house painter, he says work has slowed in recent months as the local economy has stagnated.

Haider al-Nada, 21, smokes a waterpipe at a cafe in old town Baghdad in late April 2015. A house painter, he says work has slowed in recent months as the local economy has stagnated. (Josh Smith/Stars and Stripes)

Men play dominoes under a painting of Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum in a cafe in Baghdad. While some residents say the restaurant crowd has thinned in the face of regular suicide attacks, many sidewalk cafes in older parts of the city remain packed.

Men play dominoes under a painting of Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum in a cafe in Baghdad. While some residents say the restaurant crowd has thinned in the face of regular suicide attacks, many sidewalk cafes in older parts of the city remain packed. (Josh Smith/Stars and Stripes)

Men get their hair cut at a barbershop in Baghdad. Areas of street-side shops and stores remain crowded and busy despite the city's dangerous reputation.

Men get their hair cut at a barbershop in Baghdad. Areas of street-side shops and stores remain crowded and busy despite the city's dangerous reputation. (Josh Smith/Stars and Stripes)

Two Shiite women walk along a highway during a pilgrimage from Baghdad to shrines in the city of Samarra on April 22, 2015. That same day a suicide car bomb went off next to a crowd of pilgrims as they were returning from Samarra, killing eight and wounding 16.

Two Shiite women walk along a highway during a pilgrimage from Baghdad to shrines in the city of Samarra on April 22, 2015. That same day a suicide car bomb went off next to a crowd of pilgrims as they were returning from Samarra, killing eight and wounding 16. (Josh Smith/Stars and Stripes)

Aka Abu Haider Abass sifts through old colonial British coins at his antiques shop in old town Baghdad. It was under a British mandate established after World War I that Iraq's controversial modern borders were drawn.

Aka Abu Haider Abass sifts through old colonial British coins at his antiques shop in old town Baghdad. It was under a British mandate established after World War I that Iraq's controversial modern borders were drawn. (Josh Smith/Stars and Stripes)

A street vendor in Baghdad fries falafel, usually made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, often served in a flat bread sandwich.  Other common fast food includes shawarma, and boiled chickpeas.

A street vendor in Baghdad fries falafel, usually made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, often served in a flat bread sandwich. Other common fast food includes shawarma, and boiled chickpeas. (Josh Smith/Stars and Stripes)

Bakers prepare traditional diamond-shaped flat bread at a bakery in Baghdad.

Bakers prepare traditional diamond-shaped flat bread at a bakery in Baghdad. (Josh Smith/Stars and Stripes)

A woman carries her child past shops in Baghdad's old book market. In 2007, a suicide bomber killed 26 people in the area, which wasn't officially reopened for a year.

A woman carries her child past shops in Baghdad's old book market. In 2007, a suicide bomber killed 26 people in the area, which wasn't officially reopened for a year. (Josh Smith/Stars and Stripes)

Two men browse books at a shop on Mutanabbi Street. The area hosts a range of bookshops and cafes and is often seen as a favorite haunt for the city's intellectuals.

Two men browse books at a shop on Mutanabbi Street. The area hosts a range of bookshops and cafes and is often seen as a favorite haunt for the city's intellectuals. (Josh Smith/Stars and Stripes)

Shoppers take escalators inside Baghdad's Mansour Mall. The four-story mall features about 200 stores and restaurants and includes movie theaters and an indoor amusement park for kids.

Shoppers take escalators inside Baghdad's Mansour Mall. The four-story mall features about 200 stores and restaurants and includes movie theaters and an indoor amusement park for kids. (Josh Smith/Stars and Stripes)

Diners sit at a cafe inside Mansour Mall in Baghdad. A $25-million Iraqi-Turkish project, the mall opened in 2013 and has become a popular haven for Baghdad's upper middle class.

Diners sit at a cafe inside Mansour Mall in Baghdad. A $25-million Iraqi-Turkish project, the mall opened in 2013 and has become a popular haven for Baghdad's upper middle class. (Josh Smith/Stars and Stripes)

Women shoppers browse stores inside Baghdad's Mansour Mall. The glittering shopping center contrasts with the drab blast walls and concrete that mark most of the city.

Women shoppers browse stores inside Baghdad's Mansour Mall. The glittering shopping center contrasts with the drab blast walls and concrete that mark most of the city. (Josh Smith/Stars and Stripes)

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Suicide bombings are a near-daily occurrence, and fears of sectarian violence encroaching on Iraq’s capital are palpable. But for the city’s roughly 4 million residents, life goes on.

Baghdad and its immediate surroundings are among the deadliest areas for Iraqi civilians, even though most conventional fighting between pro-government forces and Islamic State militants occurs in other parts of the country. According to the U.N., 319 civilians were killed and 846 were injured in the greater capital area in April.

Residents describe regular run-ins with various sectarian militia groups, many of which act like mafia to extort and harass people.

In the midst of it all, scenes of normal life play out every day.

While the economy has slowed in recent months, most officials attribute that to government policies and other factors rather than the continuing violence.

smith.josh@stripes.comTwitter:@joshjonsmith


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