150 Iraqi Children Compete in First Fallujah 5K

The winners in Iraq!
45% of the Iraq’s 27,500,000 people are below the age of 14.

FULL SPEED AHEAD: A cyclist raises his arms in jubilation at a 5-kilometer bike race in Fallujah, the formerly war-torn, al Qaeda-dominated Iraqi province where more than 100 riders participated in the event. (New York Post)

Lieutenant Fishman forwarded this good news story at The New York Post from last week:

About 150 students wearing colorful T-shirts competed in a bicycle race last week in Fallujah, an unimaginable event a year ago in what was once an al Qaeda hotbed and one of Iraq’s most dangerous cities.

The city’s police chief fired the starting shot to set the students from 15 intermediate and secondary schools off on the 5-kilometer race across the town, 30 miles west of Baghdad…

Scores of families lined the streets to watch the race and milled around the riders to congratulate them after the race.

Security in Fallujah, scene of some of the fiercest battles in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, has gradually improved this year, and something resembling normal life is returning to the city.

A year ago, western Anbar, in which Fallujah sits, was second only to Baghdad as the most violent province in Iraq.

Michael Totten has more on the edgy calm in Fallujah from his recent embed with the US military.

Soccer returns…

Supporters of a local Iraqi police football team cheer during a match against the Al-Zawraa team at Baghdad’s Al-Shaab Stadium. Several thousand rowdy soccer fans turned up at Al-Shaab stadium in Baghdad Saturday as premier league football got into full swing in the capital more than 18 months after mortars brought it to a halt.(AFP/Ali al-Saadi)

Previously:
The Ramadi Fun Run
Jubilant Fans Welcome Soccer Back to Baghdad

Related… Michael Totten has another report from Fallujah posted today, via Instapundit.

UPDATE: Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Walter Gaskin, the commander of U.S. forces in the western desert region, said today that security gains in Iraq’s once-restive Anbar province are permanent but Iraqi forces need another year and a half before they can operate there without American help.
Hat Tip Alamo City Commando

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