The airport in Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, is set to be reconstructed by 2024, officials said on Wednesday as Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi laid the project's foundation stone.
The international airport was severely damaged during the 2017 battle to liberate Mosul from ISIS and has not been used since the extremists overran the city in 2014.
During the inauguration ceremony, the prime minister said "huge efforts" were being made to rebuild the war-torn city five years after the battle to push ISIS out.
"The project to reconstruct Mosul's international airport is of strategic importance for our people which will provide job opportunities and will facilitate transportation," Mr Al Kadhimi said.
In February 2021, the French company ADP Ingenierie signed an agreement with the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority for the airport’s reconstruction.
However, two Turkish companies have been assigned to take over the reconstruction phase, which is expected to take up to two years to complete, local officials said.
Baghdad was given total control of the airport in 2011. It had been under the control of US troops after the 2003 invasion.
For years, the airport was used as an airfield for Iraqi forces especially in the 1970s.
"I am doing so to send a message that Iraqis deserve to live their lives, and that they are able to turn challenges into opportunities for success," Mr Al Kadhimi said.
Since the removal of ISIS, construction has moved at a very slow pace in the city of more than one million inhabitants.
Life has largely returned to normal. Shops, schools and universities have reopened, while international organisations have funded a project to restore historic sites.
Titled "reviving the spirit of Mosul", under the auspices of the United Nation's cultural agency, Unesco, the project will reconstruct the famous Al Nuri Mosque and two other churches.
The UAE is funding the project by donating $50 million to Unesco.
The city of Mosul is a prime example of "Iraqi coexistence and diversity which we consider an element of strength", said the prime minister.
"Mosul proves that Iraq has a lot of human capabilities and competencies due to its history and people," Mr Al Kadhimi said.
The Red Cross estimated that 35 per cent of west Mosul residents and less than 15 per cent in east Mosul, which bore the brunt of the fighting, have enough water to meet their daily needs in 2021.
The government is also building another international airport in the northern city of Kirkuk.
"We need integration and co-operation between all Iraqis in doer to build a country worthy for its people," Mr Al Kadhimi said.
The prime minister said he would redouble efforts to bring the corrupt to justice, to remove obstacles preventing the country from rebuilding.