Iraq elections: Could Iran be the real winner?

The Mosul spring festival was held this week for the first time since 2003 – the year of the US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.

Organisers said they revived the festival to symbolise the rebirth of Iraq’s second city.

Much of it still lies in ruins after last year’s war to destroy the jihadist extremists who called themselves Islamic State (IS), and the entity they declared as the caliphate.

The spring festival looked to be a success. Art students painted a mural 50m (165ft) long on the road and floats represented everything from the historic al-Nuri mosque – destroyed by IS – to the local cement factory which is presumably now working at full stretch. Youths marched with Iraqi flags.

Young girls took part dressed as brides while boys were dressed as soldiers. Following up were real fighters, veterans of the war against IS, from elite units of the Iraqi army to tough-looking Shia volunteers from the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Units known as the Hashd.

Image caption Mosul’s children also took part in the celebrations – the first in 15 years

They are…

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