A small park in Baghdad that was once a strategic asset for insurgents has been reclaimed by civilians, one of a growing number of signs of a return to normal life in the Iraqi capital.
Where residents play soccer today, terrorists once used the flat pitch to launch missiles over the Tigris River into Baghdad's Green Zone. The park was a no-go area just two years ago but is now the province of families on picnics and children at play, a trend visible all around the country.
Wednesday night, for the first time in five years, the city of Samarra put on a soccer game with 5,000 spectators in attendance. Samarra was the site of a deadly bombing in 2006 that threw Iraq into spasms of violence and murder, but the city is calmer now, and rebuilding.