They look like kids you might see in the playground or at the mall. Like many of you, they play soccer, ride bikes and hang out with friends.

They're the children of Iraq and there are 12 million of them -- nearly half of the country's population is younger than 18.

America went to war against Iraq's government, and the bombing has destroyed some of these kids' houses or forced their families to leave home to find safety. Some kids have been hurt. Some children have died.

The Iraq that today's kids have known has always been at war or suffering from war's destruction.

Saddam Hussein became Iraq's president in 1979. He led his country into a war against Iran that went on for eight years. In 1990, Hussein's army invaded neighboring Kuwait, and the United States led other countries in a war against Iraq.

After that war, the United Nations stopped countries from selling many things to Iraq. The United Nations thought these "sanctions" would force Iraq to get rid of weapons it could use against its neighbors. But many think the sanctions have hurt Iraq's people and not its government. The number of children suffering from hunger and disease went up in the 1990s.

Now Iraq's children are in the middle of yet another war. Soldiers are firing guns, bombs are exploding in Baghdad and other citites. You might have seen it on television or in newspapers. But some kids are seeing these things with their own eyes. Here are a few of them.

-- Fern Shen

Children line up to get food in Baghdad.A boy stands by his home hit by a missile near Baghdad.A boy listens to a speech by Iraq's Saddam Hussein.A family passes a destroyed Iraqi tank while seeking safety after a mortar attack last week in the southern city of Basra.Private first class Joseph DeWitt carries an Iraqi boy who was injured during a battle near Al Faysaliyah.A boy carries water he received from U.S. and British troops. It was trucked in from Kuwait.Marines throw candy and food to Iraqi kids.An Iraqi Kurdish woman and her daughter sit in a makeshift tent near Emeki after they abandoned their home in northern Iraq.