Marathon draws thousands in Iraq's devastated Mosul
More than 4,000 runners took part Thursday in a "peace marathon" in Mosul to raise funds to rebuild the war-ravaged western district of Iraq's second city.
Government forces declared victory in July in their battle to oust the Islamic State group from Mosul, which the jihadists had seized in a lightning 2014 offensive.
Iraqi forces first recaptured east Mosul and in February launched a months-long battle for the densely-populated western sector of a city which is divided by the Tigris River.
Today much of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province, lies in ruins with the pace of reconstruction slow.
On Thursday, more than 4,000 Iraqi and foreign runners took part in a first "International Nineveh Marathon for Peace" in east Mosul that kicked off near the destroyed Old Bridge.
"Each participant contributed 5,000 dinars ($4) to take part in the race," Raad al-Taii, a spokesman for the organisers, told AFP.
The aim was to raise funds for displaced residents of west Mosul, and to rebuild homes and shops.
"The marathon is a message of peace for the entire world... and also a local and international call to raise awareness for reconstruction," said one of the organisers, Moataz al-Rawi.
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