WASHINGTON - A gold-laden sword looted from ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s personal office in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq has been returned to Iraqi authorities.

The Homeland Security Department on Monday returned the 43-inch (110-centimeter) sword with an embellished blade and sheath with gold inlaid Arabic writing to the Iraqi ambassador. The sword was seized by the US government in January 2012 after it was found for sale at an auction in Manchester, New Hampshire.

The auction company, which sold the sword for $15,000 before it was seized, said it was brought to the United States by an American combat historian. The department says the sword, a gift to Saddam, is not a modern battlefield weapon and could not be considered a war trophy.