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U.S. Soldiers Among First to Tour Ancient Iraqi Temple

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Nov. 14: U.S. troops in Iraq tour the once off-limit Ziggurat of Ur. (Fox)

The Ziggurat of Ur has stood for 4,000 years in the desert near Nasiriyah in southeastern Iraq, but this unique historical site had been almost completely off limits to visitors under Saddam Hussein.

All that has changed since the old regime was overthrown in 2003, and now, U.S. soldiers are some of the site's most receptive visitors.

The temple-pyramid is part of the ruins of an ancient Sumerian city.

Watch Fox News Channel for Malini Wilkes' report Saturday evening.

Dhair Muhsen, an Iraqi tour guide, said Hussein made it difficult for tourists to visit the sites, setting up strict checkpoints with Iraqi soldiers and telling people they couldn't take pictures.

The majority of people who visit the site now are U.S. soldiers, who are bussed over to the site from nearby Camp Adder.

“I heard about (the site) in college classes, but I never thought I'd get to actually be on the Ziggurat of Ur,” said Sgt. Brandon Metroka, from the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Another site, near the Ziggurat of Ur, is considered even more historically significant. It is believed to have been the home of Abraham, a central figure in the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions.

“I'm actually in school to be a history teacher. I'm a senior in college right now so this means everything to me... to be able to show my students (photographs) for the next 30 years,” said Sgt. Kiersten Dozack.

American advisers are working with the Iraqi government to try to open up the religiously and archaeologically rich site to the public.

Fox News' Malini Wilkes contributed to this story.