Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Good News from Iraq: 22 Oct 2008

From MNF-I, Security level allows 1000s to view soccer match in Samara.

SAMARRA, Iraq – Thousands of spectators filled the stands at the Samarra Sports Complex to witness a soccer match between club teams from Samarra and Baghdad Oct. 19.

As a show of the level of security the city is now experiencing, thousands were able to gather and watch as Football Club Samarra defeated Football Club Baghdad Student Union 3-1.

This match marked the first time two soccer teams were able to play in the once embattled city since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Several months ago, Coalition and Iraqi Security forces were clashing with enemy fighters inside the city in an attempt to rid it of insurgent activity.

ISF provided the overall security for the event and the match ended with no incidents.

“Through the cooperation of Iraqi Security Forces, Sons of Iraq and Coalition forces and the active support of the city’s residents, Samarra is now safe enough to host a soccer game that attracted thousands of spectators,” said Lt. Col. JP McGee, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment commander. “This soccer game holds huge significance for Samarra and all of Iraq. After years of violence and unrest, Samarra has expelled terrorists and established a degree of security unimaginable a year ago.”

McGee said the fact that a team from Baghdad could travel to Samarra, play in a soccer match and then return home safely represents a return of normalcy to Iraq and the reuniting of the country.

“Samarra's triumph makes it all the more special,” he said. “In this type of struggle, victory will not be marked by a formal surrender ceremony as in past conflicts. Rather, events like this soccer game will herald Iraq’s triumph over terrorism and Iraq’s reemergence as a strong, united nation."