Syrian youth find freedom in Parkour

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Struggling youth find freedom in parkour
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Struggling youth find freedom in parkour
Parkour coach Ibrahim al-Kadiri, 19, is seen demonstrating his Parkour skills from a damaged building as people watch him in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir
Muhannad al-Kadiri (R),18, and Ibrahim Eid, 16, demonstrate their Parkour skills over a military vehicle in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir 
Ibrahim Eid, 16, demonstrates his Parkour skills in front of damaged building in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir 
Parkour coach Ibrahim al-Kadiri, 19, drinks tea with his friends in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir
Parkour coach Ibrahim al-Kadiri, 19, works at his father's shop in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, April 7, 2017. At the beginning, the families of Inkhil Parkour members opposed the sport which they saw as dangerous. When they realised their sons didn't listen and continued to train, eventually acquiring new skills, they changed their views of the sport and started encouraging them. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir
Parkour coach Ibrahim al-Kadiri (L), 19, and Muhannad al-Kadiri, 18, demonstrate their parkour skills over a bin painted with an opposition flag in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, April 7, 2017. "Parkour makes me a mythical man. It gets us out of the atmosphere of war and makes us forget some of our pain and sorrows, for when i jump from a high place I feel free and i enjoy the fun," Muhammad says. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir 
Parkour coach Ibrahim al-Kadiri, 19, and Muhannad al-Kadiri (top), 18, demonstrate their parkour skills in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, February 4, 2017. "I love competing with my friends to achieve the highest jump," Muhannad says. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir 
Parkour coach Ibrahim al-Kadiri, 19, demonstrates his Parkour skills with his friend in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, February 4, 2017. Ibrahim says many team members suffered injuries, including broken toes and bruises. He himself injured his back: "Eight months ago, during an attempt to jump from high place, I injured my back and I stayed in bed for several days until I recovered." REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir
Parkour coach Ibrahim al-Kadiri (L), 19, and Muhannad al-Kadiri, 18, demonstrate their Parkour skills in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, April 7, 2017. Members of the group say Parkour takes them away from the atmosphere of war and helps them to take their sorrows away. It unloads their negative energy. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir 
Parkour coach Ibrahim al-Kadiri, 19, demonstrates his Parkour skills amid damaged buildings in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, February 4, 2017. Ibrahim and his team members say the sport is a challenge against the bad conditions they have to endure because of the war. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir 
Parkour coach Ibrahim al-Kadiri, 19, demonstrates his Parkour skills near damaged buildings in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, April 7, 2017. The team records their performances in photos and videos, which they post on social media. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir 
Parkour coach Ibrahim al-Kadiri, 19, demonstrates his parkour skills amid damage in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, February 4, 2017. Led by Ibrahim, the team trains on quiet days. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir 
Ahmed al-Kadiri, 18, demonstrates his Parkour skills on a damaged building in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, February 4, 2017. Injuries are frequent among the group; Ahmed once twisted his neck. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir
Parkour coach Ibrahim al-Kadiri (L), 19, and Muhannad al-Kadiri, 18, demonstrate their Parkour skills in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir 
Parkour coach Ibrahim al-Kadiri (R), 19, and Muhannad al-Kadiri, 18, demonstrate their Parkour skills amid damaged buildings in the rebel-held city of Inkhil, west of Deraa, Syria, April 7, 2017. Ibrahim discovered Parkour in Jordan, where he had fled to escape the war. Back in his home town since 2015, he now leads a group of 15 practitioners. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Faqir 
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INKHIL, Syria (Reuters) - Leaping over bombed roofs and jumping through damaged window frames, a group of teenagers run and swing their way through buildings left dilapidated by six years of war in the southern Syrian town of Inkhil.

The young men practise Parkour across rebel-held Inkhil, saying they find escape in the physical discipline which involves climbing and running over buildings and grounds and takes its name from the French word for route or course "parcours".

"When I jump from a high place I feel free and I enjoy it," 18-year-old Muhannad al-Kadiri said. "I love competing with my friends to see who can achieve the highest jump."

The group of about 15 have been practicing Parkour for around two years, often in school courtyards and on quiet days when there is no fighting in the area.

Inkhil is located near a front line between rebels and pro-government forces in an area that has been subjected to air strikes and shelling during the conflict.

The Parkour leaps can take their toll and members of the group have suffered broken toes, bruises and even a twisted neck during training.

The teenagers film and photograph each other and upload the footage on Facebook. They even have an audience.

"(Parkour) is exciting and relies on physical fitness and skill," spectator Ayman said during one training session. "But it is dangerous especially because they attempt it in damaged areas. I hope they get better and learn new skills."

Parkour was born in France in the 1980s as Art du Deplacement and has gained popularity over the years. In January, Britain became the first country to officially recognize it as a sport.

Kadiri and his friends somersault in the air, hold themselves up with just their arms and leap over piles of rubble.

"Parkour gets us out of the atmosphere of war and makes us forget some of our pain and sorrow," Kadiri said. "It makes me feel mythical."

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