BAGHDAD - For years Salman Pak located on the southeast edge of Baghdad, along the east bank of the Tigris River, was on the front lines of sectarian violence in Iraq. The fighting between criminal groups, insurgents and al-Qaeda left the city, once considered a top tourist destination stop for all Iraqis, lawless and in shambles.

The Iraqi Army and Coalition Forces eventually suppressed the sectarian violence in the area and Salman Pak has slowly returned to normal.

In yet another sign of the improving security situation in Salman Pak, Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers from Task Force 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, attended the grand opening of the Salman Pak Industrial School, March 24. The USAID provided funding for the $600,000 renovation project.

The Industrial School reopened its doors after major reconstruction work was completed after virtually being destroyed during insurgent led attacks at the height of sectarian violence in 2006-2007.

The Industrial school will offer eight courses available for up to 700 students to learn skills on sewing generator maintenance, welding, automotive repair, plumbing, electrical installation, masonry and carpentry.

Learning a trade for these men and providing job opportunities are important in keeping them from rejoining the insurgency by providing them an opportunity to obtain a steady paying job and support for their families.

The Industrial school also received new equipment for a women's sewing room, a machine and metal working section and a computer room.

The Ministry of Education will maintain the building grounds, hire and retain qualified teachers for the school, and provide a full-time guard for the school.

"This school has a 30-year history and always represented a chance for learning and helping the youth of the Mada'in progress, but because of the violence in the area after the war it stopped," said Qassi Mrweh, Mada'in Qada Council Chairman.

The improved security situation brought by the ISF, CF and also by the local people who became tired of the instability, enabled contractors to rebuild the industrial school, according to Mrweh.

"This is an excellent example of cooperation between coalition forces and our Iraqi counter parts in the Mada'in Qada," said Christopher Crowley, mission director, USAID/Iraq, and a native of Wilmington, N. C.

Local leaders, partnered with MND-B Soldiers, continue to work to bring Salman Pak to its former glory days when the city was known for the Ctesiphon Arch and city amusement park and not as a battle ground of sectarian fighting.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16