Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Iran-Backed Militia Groups Will Participate in West Mosul Operations

Iran-Backed Militia Groups Will Participate in West Mosul Operations

Jan 31, 2017

Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi – the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF) – has announced that its forces are ready to “liberate” western Mosul. On January 31, Ahmed al-Asadi, the PMF’s spokesperson, explained that the PMF’s “sixth phase of operations in the west of Nineveh Province will cover areas from western Mosul to Tal Afar” and will extend to the border of Sinjar. He emphasized that PMF’s participation in western Mosul operations was essential.
The announcement comes just days after Iraqi National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayyad confirmed that “The Popular Mobilization Forces in Nineveh Province will participate in the liberation operation of Tal Afar.” In an interview with Iranian state-run Al-Alam News Network, Fayyad, who is also PMF’s chairman, added: “Hashd al-Shaabi forces have liberated more than 150 villages and also the airbase of Tal Afar. They have now brought the city of Tal Afar under a siege.”
The PMF’s increasing role in western Mosul, particularly in Tal Afar, a city about 40 miles west of Mosul, has been a matter of grave concern for Iraqi Sunnis and regional Sunni leaders, who have repeatedly expressed the worry that Iran-backed sectarian groups within the PMF may engage in revenge killings against Tal Afar’s Sunni inhabitants once the Islamic State is ousted. Turkey, in particular, has warned that it would not remain silent to the PMF’s advances into Tal Afar.
The PMF consists of militia forces largely from Shiite but also other Iraqi ethnic and religious groups. While some PMF units are Iraqi nationalists and follow Iraq’s top cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, many prominent groups within PMF have close ties with Qassem Suleimani, the head of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force. What makes Sunnis particularly worried is that, despite PMF’s diversity, it is the Iran-backed militia units within the PMF that are playing the most prominent role in western Mosul. Last month, Jawad al-Talibawi, a spokesman for the armed wing of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, said forces from Kata'ib Hezbollah, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the Badr Organization, and Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada were tasked to lead the military operations to “liberate” Tal Afar. All these groups are closely linked with Iran’s Quds Force.
Last November, Iraq’s parliament approved a law legalizing the PMF as separate military corps – a decision some Sunni Iraqi politicians and lawmakers derided as a Shiite “dictatorship.” And although the PMF is now an integral part of the Iraqi armed forces, some PMF units continue to commit human rights abuses. Earlier this month, Amnesty International accused some Shiite Iraq militia groups of committing war crimes – including abductions, extrajudicial killings, torture and property destruction – using weapons provided to the Iraq military by at least 16 countries, including the United States.

Militant rule in Mosul sparked backlash against religion

Militant rule in Mosul sparked backlash against religion



MOSUL, Iraq: In recaptured areas of Mosul, the extreme interpretation of Islam that militants forced on the local population for more than two years has sparked a backlash against religious observance. After Daesh (ISIS) seized the city in June 2014, it made prayers compulsory for people who were outside their homes, banned smoking, mandated beards for men and veils for women, smashed artifacts it said were idolatrous, publicly executed homosexuals and cut off the hands of thieves.
The militants cast their efforts as enacting the true interpretation of Islam – an assertion that most Muslims reject – but for some people, rather than making them more religious as intended, Daesh extremism had the opposite effect.
The call to prayer sounds over a mosque’s loudspeakers in a recaptured area of Mosul, but a butcher named Omar continues working – something that would have been impossible under Daesh rule.
“Mosul is an Islamic city and most young people used to pray,” but Daesh was “forcing us ... we had to go to the mosque against our will,” he said.
Before eastern Mosul was retaken from Daesh during the massive operation to recapture the northern city that was launched on Oct. 17, shops had to close five times a day for prayers.
“One day, the boy who works with me received 35 lashes because he hadn’t been praying,” Omar said.
“Now, we are no longer obliged to close our stores. ... Whether we pray or not, the decision is ours.”
Imam Mohammad Ghanem, who was forbidden to conduct Friday prayers under Daesh rule because he refused to pledge allegiance to the group, said the militants sparked a backlash against religion.
“Now some people hate the time of prayer because [Daesh] forced them” to pray, Ghanem said.
“They reject these rules because they associate them with [Daesh], even if they are in fact true Islamic precepts,” he said.
“Put too much pressure on something and it will explode. This is what’s happening now with the people: They want to live the way they want,” he said.
According to Ghanem, part of his work before the militant group seized Mosul was educating people about Islamic practices and correcting them if necessary.
“Now, we say nothing because they reject religious authority. If we tell them they are doing something wrong, they tell us that we are from [Daesh],” he said.
In another area of eastern Mosul, where rain is accumulating in craters left by the fighting, Imam Fares Adel said he too has changed the way he interacts with the faithful.
“Now we are afraid to give advice to people because they feel uncomfortable with the religious clothing” worn by imams, said Adel.
The imam said he understands those residents who “reject Islam,” but thinks the situation will “gradually” return to normal.
“The number of people is gradually increasing and they will all come back once of the footprint of Daesh has disappeared,” said Adel.
In Ghanem’s mosque, latecomers have to pray outside.
Around 40 worshipers kneel near fruit and vegetable stands to pray, while hundreds are squeezed inside the mosque.
“The imam has a good mentality and he speaks well to us. More and more people are coming back” to the mosque, 25-year-old resident Mohammad Ali said.
Now, without the threat of [Daesh] reprisals, “they come because they choose to.”

Mosul Residents Repair IS-desecrated Graves

Mosul Residents Repair IS-desecrated Graves




"Islamic State militants would bring busloads of prisoners here at night," says Bassam, a worker at a hilltop cemetery overlooking eastern Mosul. "People who had been smoking, wearing the wrong clothes or doing other things IS said were forbidden were ordered to destroy the headstones."
Militants told locals that gravestones bearing their loved ones’ names were un-Islamic. Muslims in eastern Mosul, now entirely Iraqi-controlled for almost a week, disagreed with the IS interpretation of their religion.
Bassam, living adjacent to the graveyard, saw some residents sneak into the graveyard to repair broken headstones, despite of the danger of defying IS.

"They cut off my friend's head because he cursed during an argument on the street," says Omar, a baker, after burying an elderly female relative Sunday. "Any little thing could get you killed."
Other residents say they intend to repair broken headstones now that IS is gone, but so many people have died during the past two-and-a-half years, it is hard to locate the burial sites.
"This was a tiny local graveyard before IS," says Bassam. "But now it's huge."

The graveyard, like many others in Mosul, is now so packed that bodies are buried on top of each other, or two or three to a grave, says Taha Ghanim, a Mosul resident and social studies teacher.
"We were trapped," he explains, while outside a small market that sells eggs, sodas and cigarettes. "We couldn't go to Iraqi-controlled areas, so we were forced to bury all of our dead here."

The bodies of the people murdered by IS for being former police officers or soldiers, having extramarital affairs, using mobile phones or committing one of the many other actions IS calls "crimes" are almost all still missing.
"When they killed someone," says Bassam, "they would never let you bury them."
Often bodies were publicly displayed with notes describing their crimes as a warning to the public. The remains of these victims are believed to have been tossed in the trash, now lying in a large dumpsite deep inside IS-controlled western Mosul.
"They murdered people and hung their bodies on traffic lights," explains Omar, the baker, and father of a one-year-old son. "We wouldn't let the children out of the house sometimes, because we didn't want them to see."

 An Iraqi soldier examines the body of an IS militant who residents say was killed in an airstrike a week before this picture was taken in Mosul, Iraq, Jan. 23, 2017. (H. Murdock/VOA)



Scattered throughout the city and the surrounding countryside in Iraqi-controlled territories are also the bodies of IS militants, often laying for weeks where they died.
Unbearable damage
At the graveyard, one mourner blames Bassam, the gravedigger, for the desecration of his family's graves.
"You have taken my family gravesites and ruined them," argues Hassam Ali, who lost two sisters and a niece to Islamist extremists. "You buried other people in their plots with them."

The murders took place before IS, but Ali says that, for many residents, IS, al-Qaida and other militant groups are not all that different.
Bassam is defiant, saying he had no choice but to bury all the dead, and the constant destruction of headstones left him little information about where he should dig. Like so much of the carnage left over in eastern Mosul, Bassam says he was powerless to stop it while it was happening.
"IS forced me to bury the people," he protests. "There was no other place."

WATCH THE VIDEO

Iraqi Christian leader visiting Mosul sees little future for Christians

Iraqi Christian leader visiting Mosul sees little future for Christians


 

 


MOSUL, Iraq – As some residents of the city of Mosul celebrate their new freedom from the Islamic State group, an Iraqi Christian leader who visited the war-torn city said Christian residents are unlikely to return.
 
"I don't see a future for Christians in Mosul," said Father Emanuel Youkhana, a priest, or archimandrite, of the Assyrian Church of the East.
Father Youkhana, who runs Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq, a Christian program for displaced Iraqis around the city of Dohuk, entered Mosul in a military convoy Jan. 27, the day Iraqi officials raised the national flag over the eastern part of the city. Islamic State seized the city in 2014, causing Christians and other minorities to flee.
Once inside Mosul, Father Youkhana moved about freely, talking to residents and soldiers. He visited two churches, both heavily damaged.
"The churches were used as warehouses by Daesh," he said, referring to the terrorist group by its common Arabic name. "They used the churches to store what they looted from Christian and Yezidi villages, but as the end neared they sold the buildings to local contractors, who started tearing down the walls to reuse the steel inside. If the army hadn't entered for another couple of weeks, the buildings might have been completely destroyed."
One building, belonging to the Syriac Orthodox Church, had not been completely swept for explosives, according to Iraqi soldiers in the area. The front of the building was painted with an Islamist slogan by the Islamic State, and a military commander told Father Youkhana his troops would gladly paint over it. Father Youkhana replied that it was not his church, so he had no authority to authorize the troops.
"And leaving it as is preserves the evidence of what Daesh did here," he told Catholic News Service.
At another church, owned by the Assyrian Church of the East, the body of an Islamic State fighter poked out of a pile of garbage in front of the sanctuary.
Father Youkhana, who went to high school in Mosul, also photographed several houses that belonged to Christians, but had been given or sold to Muslim families by the Islamic State. While he doubts Christians will return, he believes they will be able to recover the value of their properties, notwithstanding attempts by the Islamic State to destroy local government records.
"Christians aren't going to come back to stay. The churches I saw were not destroyed with bombs, but by the everyday business operations of the community. How can Christians return to that environment? It's unfortunate, because Mosul needs their skills. Most Christians were part of the intellectual and professional class here, they were doctors and lawyers and engineers and university professors. But I don't see how they can return," he said.
Father Youkhana would make no predictions how long peace will last once the Islamic State is driven completely out of Mosul, a predominantly Sunni Muslim city. The Iraqi army units that expelled the Islamic State are largely Shiite Muslim. Several of the military's armoured vehicles sported flags of the Popular Mobilization Units, a Shiite militia, and Father Youkhana said he saw several examples of graffiti written by Shiite soldiers calling for violence against the Sunnis.
 
"Why do they do that?" he asked. "They are undermining their achievement. People are thanking them for liberating them, and in return they try to provoke them. Just because they have the upper hand now.
"They should think about sustainability," he added. "The residents are welcoming you as a savior, so don't wear out your welcome by provoking them."
Father Youkhana also visited Qaraqosh, a Christian town 20 miles southeast of Mosul that he described as "a ghost town." While Mosul was bustling with busy markets and people digging out from the rubble of war, the streets of Qaraqosh were eerily silent, with most houses blackened by fire but still standing.
He explored the remains of the Syriac Catholic cathedral, reportedly the largest church in Iraq. Blackened by fire, its courtyard was filled with the ashes of what had been the church's library, as well as shell casings and bullet-ridden mannequins that the Islamic State apparently used for target practice.
Some Christian leaders are pushing for a quick return to Qaraqosh. One Christian member of the Kurdistan parliament said he is looking for $200,000 that would finance the return of 50 families, buying them the basic furniture and household items they need to re-establish themselves in their houses.
But Karim Sinjari, Kurdistan's interior minister, told a visiting ecumenical delegation that neither the necessary security nor appropriate infrastructure are in place.
"I won't stop them, but I would advise them not to go," he said. "The conditions aren't ready yet."
Iraqi Christian leaders echoed his concern.
"Security is the most critical need we have," said Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil. "Rebuilding our churches is the last thing we should think about. We want to first build houses for our people so they can live with dignity, and we need infrastructure in the villages. But all this is only possible if we can have security."
"Unless there is security, whatever we build will be for Daesh, not for us," said Syriac Orthodox Bishop Nicodemos of Mosul.
Some residents of Qaraqosh have returned, carrying weapons and wearing uniforms of the Ninevah Plain Protection Units, or NPU, a militia formed by the Assyrian Democratic Movement, an Iraqi political party allied with the Shiites. It operates in coordination with the Iraqi military, which has assigned it primary responsibility for protecting Qaraqosh and a nearby village.
Father Youkhana said he is troubled by the NPU's role.
"They are trying to play politics as a big actor, when in reality they don't have that power," he said. "What little role they have is exaggerated in the Christian diaspora, where it starts to sound like a Hollywood movie. If you're sitting in Phoenix, Arizona, or Sydney, Australia, you're not aware of this."
The NPU and other smaller groups "can offer a Christian cover to the Shia militias," Father Youkhana said, "allowing them to say, 'Look, we have the Christians on board with us. We are all the same.' I'm sorry, but we are not all the same."
Fadi Raad is tired of running from the Islamic State, so the 25-year-old Qaraqosh native joined the NPU and today patrols the streets of the town on the lookout for lingering terrorists.
"I'm here to defend my village, and because I want to save the Christians in Iraq. It's difficult here now, but when the government and the NGOs repair all the houses, then the Christians will come back. The NPU is here to stay. It's different now. If Daesh comes back, we will kill them all," he said.
 

Schools are reopening in Mosul, after two years of jihadist rule

Schools are reopening in Mosul, after two years of jihadist rule

Jan 31st 2017

LIBERATION has proved dangerous for the residents of Tullaban, a farming hamlet on the outskirts of Mosul. Last autumn, as the push began to wrest the city from Islamic State (IS), villagers returned home to find no sign of the jihadists who had seized it back in 2014. Nor, though, could they spot the booby traps and mines the IS fighters had laid as they fled.
Hidden in the doorways of houses and buried in nearby fields, the villagers only learned of their presence the hard way. “When the IS first came this way, we fled because we knew how they were beheading people,” says Ali Jassem, 80, standing among houses flattened by air strikes and pockmarked with machine gunfire. “Then we came back, and four people were killed while going inside their homes.”
Tullaban, which used to be on IS’s front line, is now being cleared of landmines and booby traps by the Mines Advisory Group, a British charity dedicated to making post-conflict zones safe again. But for all that it still resembles a battlefield, both the hinterland of Mosul and eastern parts of the city itself are seeing life to return to normal in areas freed from IS. It is happening faster than most dared hope.
On January 15th, 30 schools reopened in the east of the city, allowing 16,000 children to start classes again. Some of them have had no education at all since IS took over Mosul, once Iraq’s second-largest city, in June 2014. Others have been in IS-run madrassas where, besides studying the Koran, boys trained with weapons and girls did little more than cook and clean.
“The reopening of the schools has been by public demand,” said Peter Hawkins, the senior official in Iraq for UNICEF, the UN children’s fund. “For children it’s a chance to have some structure back to their lives. For teachers, it’s a chance to get back to work and earn salaries.”
As well as children in school uniform heading to class amid piles of rubble, Mr Hawkins, who has toured eastern Mosul reports seeing shops, and restaurants open again, and even a football match. At least 22,000 people have returned to their homes, most in buses from the vast UN-run camps for displaced people that stretch across the surrounding hills.
The traffic is not all one way. When The Economist visited eastern Mosul’s hinterland last week, new arrivals were continuing, including a bedraggled group of 30 men who had done a four-day trek from IS-held territory. Overall, though, the exodus has never reached quite the apocalyptic levels predicted. Before the offensive, which began its main phase in October, it was feared that up to 250,000 of east Mosul’s 400,000 people would flee. The figure is nearer 180,000.
The situation contrasts with last year’s operations to flush IS from Fallujah and Ramadi, west of Baghdad, which suffered much greater damage, and where many civilians still languished in camps six months after it was taken. In Mosul, Mr Hawkins says, the Iraqi army has used gentler tactics, and encouraged civilians to stay in their homes rather than flee. That so many houses remained occupied also made it harder for IS to booby trap them—unlike the case in villages like Tullaban, which was emptied of civilians.
Nobody, though, thinks the end is in sight. For while eastern Mosul is now mostly retaken, western Mosul, with around 750,000 civilians, remains largely in IS hands. For those returning to their homes, many difficult questions remain. Why did my neighbour stay in Mosul while I fled? Was he an IS sympathiser, and if so, should I let my children play with his? Mr Hawkins is promising counselling and education to minimise the inevitable sense of mistrust, hoping to ensure that children exposed to IS influence are not ostracised.
Yet if Falluja and Ramadi are anything to go by, healing the wounds will be a job not just for aid agencies and politicians, but for more traditional actors like Iraq’s tribes; in Ramadi and Falluja tribal councils are still debating exactly what happened. Should similar gatherings get under way around Mosul, there will be just as much to talk about.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Many years’ before Mosul stable enough for Christians to return

Many years’ before Mosul stable enough for Christians to return

Jan. 30, 2017

Christians and other non-Sunni Muslims from Mosul, northern Iraq, waiting to return after their city’s liberation from Islamic State is completed, may have many years to wait, and their chances of doing so depend on the actions of the Iraqi Government, a leading researcher has warned.

Charlie Winter, senior research fellow at the International Centre for Radicalisation Studies at King’s College, London, said that Islamic State in its propaganda had “audaciously” likened Mosul to the Saudi city of Medina in the days of Muhammad. (In 622 AD, Muhammad left Mecca for Medina after hearing of a plot to assassinate him.)
Speaking in London on 25 Jan., Winter said “there is no such thing as a post-IS world” and added that ideological measures will be needed after military victory is achieved, to address ongoing levels of sympathy for the group and its supremacist aims.
Asked what measures would be necessary for the city’s diverse non-Muslim communities to return to Mosul, he replied that it’s vital that the Shia-led Iraqi Government shows they care about the population who lived under the group’s occupation, and rebuild what was lost.

The rise of IS came amidst disaffection among Iraqi Sunnis, which increased during the premiership of Nouri al-Maliki, who centralised power around himself.
“The best way to inoculate territories the Islamic State has held for a long time is trying to return to normal – not ignoring what has happened, but trying to re-establish services’ provision, repopulate areas, get people talking to each other again, get trade going again, take back to these territories everything that was lost over the last few years,” Winter said. 
He added that the city’s civilian population is now “less supportive” than it used to be.
However, Mr. Winter warned that if the Iraqi Government continues to fail to look beyond sectarian divisions and provide for its citizens equally, stability will be “many, many years” away. He said he believes IS will be defeated in western Mosul in the next few months, but that it will focus on insurgency tactics to undermine Baghdad and “salvage some sort of momentum” for the group.
He was also sharply critical of US President Donald Trump’s pre-election pledge to “bomb the hell out of ISIS”. He suggested that believing the problem requires only a military response is “damaging” and will be exacerbated by a “foolish and naïve and superficial” understanding of the issue.
The Middle East Advocacy Coordinator for global charity Open Doors, which supports Christians under pressure for their faith around the world, said: “Open Doors believes that equal citizenship, dignity in different aspects of life and enhanced and inclusive peace and reconciliation efforts – which give faith-based organisations a leading role – are the key three elements for achieving sustainable peace in Mosul and Nineveh.”
‘Iraq needs Christians’
Open Doors, with others, produced a detailed report on the vital contribution that Christians make in Iraq (and Syria). The report’s coordinator, who did not wish to be named, said: “We need recognition for the vital role of the Church in rebuilding and reconciliation… Maintaining the presence of Christians is not only about them; it is for the good of society as a whole. In the reports and research we’ve conducted, we have mapped, in a way, all the contributions Christians have given to Iraq.”
The report begins: “When Christianity spread across what we now call the Middle East and we see that since then until now Christians have contributed to societies in literacy, in health, in translating and contributing to the Arabic language. Some of the best early centres of learning in the world were founded by Christians. Christians were among the first to introduce charitable works and NGOs. We see them involved in politics, and in the development of the Iraqi state. Christians are among the most well-known business people. And in the future Christians, alongside other numerical minorities, are vitally important for the stability of [Iraq]. Policy-makers and researchers agree that we need to maintain diversity in order to counter extremism and radicalisation. We need diversity to ensure sustainable peace and lasting stability in the Middle East.”
The way that Open Doors is tackling these issues, the coordinator said, involves working with indigenous church leaders, engaging with governments and decision-makers across the globe, and trying to collect One Million Voices in a petition in support of a campaign to bring “Hope to the Middle East”.

ISIS “minister of war” trained by anti-terror firm in US

ISIS “minister of war” trained by anti-terror firm in US

30/1/2017 

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— One of the leading foreign fighters of the Islamic State, who is now called the “minister of war” for the militant group in Mosul, has previously been trained in the US by the private military company Blackwaters, according to the Iraqi intelligence sources. 

Gulmurad Khalimov, 41, replaced his predecessor Abu Umar Chichani as the group’s minister of war last June after Chichani was killed in an airstrike in Shargat, south of Mosul. 

The US has announced a bounty of $3 million for information leading to the arrest or death of Khalimov who is originally from Tajikistan and is believed to have been recruited by the ISIS in 2013. 

“We have detailed information about the ISIS minister of war. He’s, however, smart and tactical, changing places far too often,” an Iraqi intelligence officer told Rudaw on condition of anonymity. 

According to the source, Khalimov is still in Mosul with an estimated 3,000 militants in the western parts of the city. He appears to be the most senior member of the extrimist group after their leader Abu Bakir al-Baghdadi whose whereabouts is unclear. 

According to international monitoring groups, over 10,000 foreigners have joined the group in both Syria and Iraq as foreign fighters, but the jihadi assemblage has also recruited young disfranchised local people in many places including in Mosul city.

There are no confirmed data about the death toll among the ISIS militants as no media is allowed to the territories controlled by the group who has in the past published horrific execution scenes of victims including dozens of Peshmarga forces. But estimates suggest that thousands of ISIS militants have been killed in both countries in ground and airstrikes. 

Khalimov made headlines in 2015 when he appeared in an ISIS propaganda video. It shows Khalimov speaking from an undisclosed location accompanied by men in characteristic insurgent garb, and cradling a sniper rifle.

He challenges Tajik servicemen, saying: "Are you ready to die for this state?"
 

World Food Program Halves Food Rations for Displaced Iraqis as Funds Run Out

World Food Program Halves Food Rations for Displaced Iraqis as Funds Run Out



The World Food Program (WFP) has had to halve the food rations it gives to 1.4 million displaced Iraqis because payments from its major donor states have been delayed.

"This year somehow we are receiving commitments from donors a little bit late.

We are talking with donors but we don't have enough money as of yet," spokesperson for the WFP Inger Marie Vennize told Reuters January 27. "We have had to reduce (the rations) as of this month."
Vennize said the 50% cuts in monthly rations would affect more than 1.4 million people across the country.
The reduction comes as more and more Iraqis are being displaced both by Daesh and by the US-supported push to finally oust the terrorist group from its stronghold in Mosul.
Mosul's estimated 1.5 million residents are currently caught up in vicious urban warfare between Daesh and Iraqi, Kurdish and American forces and Shia militias. Of the 1.4 million people in Iraq who received WFP assistance in November, more than 164,000 were individuals displaced by the battle for Mosul.
The WFP notes that it is also supplying food to families who have chosen not to leave their homes, and is delivering rations to those in need in the suburbs around the city.
"They are giving an entire family the food supply of one person… we want to go back home," Omar Shukri Mahmoud, an Iraqi living in the Hassan Sham camp, told Reuters.
Another woman, Safa Shaker, said the rations wouldn't be enough for her large extended family. "We escaped from [Daesh] in order to have a chance to live and now they have cut the aid. How are we supposed to live?"
The WFP, a UN agency, is talking to its major donors, including the biggest, the United States, but also Germany, Japan and others to scare up funding to bring rations back to their previous levels.

According to the WFP, more than 3.3 million Iraqis are currently internally displaced, largely since Daesh began taking over large areas of the country in 2014, and 2.4 million require immediate food assistance.
On its Iraq Emergency webpage, the WFP notes that it anticipated needing $88 million to deal with the displacement and hunger crisis the Mosul operation would inevitably create. "This will cover the procurement and pre-positioning of stocks to assist 1.4 million people for three months," it said.
At a donor meeting with the United States, Japan, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands and Kuwait in July, almost $1 billion was pledged for stabilization, mine clearance and humanitarian needs, the agency reported.
"Information on how much is for the humanitarian response and how much had already been contributed by governments is not yet available," the WFP said


Jihadist rule in Mosul sparked backlash against religion

Jihadist rule in Mosul sparked backlash against religion



Mosul (Iraq) (AFP) - In recaptured areas of Mosul, the extreme interpretation of Islam that jihadists forced on the local population for more than two years has sparked a backlash against religious observance.
After the Islamic State group seized the city in June 2014, it made prayers compulsory for people who were outside their homes, banned smoking, mandated beards for men and veils for women, smashed artefacts it said were idolatrous, publicly executed homosexuals and cut off the hands of thieves.
The jihadists cast their efforts as enacting the true interpretation of Islam -- an assertion that most Muslims reject -- but for some people, rather than making them more religious as intended, IS extremism had the opposite effect.
The call to prayer sounds over a mosque's loudspeakers in a recaptured area of Mosul, but a butcher named Omar continues working -- something that would have been impossible under IS rule.
"Mosul is an Islamic city and most young people used to pray," but IS was "forcing us... we had to go to the mosque against our will", he said.
Before eastern Mosul was retaken from IS during the massive operation to recapture the northern city that was launched on October 17, shops had to close five times a day for prayers.
"One day, the boy who works with me received 35 lashes because he hadn't been praying," Omar said.
"Now, we are no longer obliged to close our stores... Whether we pray or not, the decision is ours."
Imam Mohammed Ghanem, who was forbidden to conduct Friday prayers under IS rule because he refused to pledge allegiance to the group, said the jihadists sparked a backlash against religion.
"Now some people hate the time of prayer because IS forced them" to pray, Ghanem said.
- 'Too much pressure' -
"They reject these rules because they associate them with IS, even if they are in fact true Islamic precepts," he said.
"Put too much pressure on something and it will explode. This is what's happening now with the people: they want to live the way they want," he said.
According to Ghanem, part of his work before IS seized Mosul was educating people about Islamic practices and correcting them if necessary.
"Now, we say nothing because they reject religious authority. If we tell them they are doing something wrong, they tell us that we are from IS," he said.
In another area of eastern Mosul, where rain is accumulating in craters left by the fighting, Imam Fares Adel said he too has changed the way he interacts with the faithful.
"Now we are afraid to give advice to people because they feel uncomfortable with the religious clothing" worn by imams, said Adel.
The imam said he understands those residents who "reject Islam", but thinks the situation will "gradually" return to normal.
"The number of people is gradually increasing and they will all come back once of the footprint of IS has disappeared," said Adel.
In Ghanem's mosque, latecomers have to pray outside.
Around 40 worshippers kneel near fruit and vegetable stands to pray, while hundreds are squeezed inside the mosque.
"The imam has a good mentality and he speaks well to us. More and more people are coming back" to the mosque, said 25-year-old resident Mohammed Ali.
Now, without the threat of IS reprisals, "they come because they choose to".

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Mosul: Iraqi Soldiers Find Ancient Artifacts in Islamic State Emir’s Home

Mosul: Iraqi Soldiers Find Ancient Artifacts in Islamic State Emir’s Home

29 Jan 2017




Iraqi military officials uncovered a trove of over one hundred artifacts that experts have traced back to the Nimrud archaeological site at the former home of an Islamic State terrorist leader in eastern Mosul.

Nimrud, the capital of the ancient Assyrian empire, was once home to an extensive collection of artifacts dating back to the pre-Islamic empire. Reports from the site suggest that the Islamic State either destroyed or removed much of the content of the location — from its impressive stone gates to ancient pottery that sells at high prices on the black market.
The UK Telegraph confirms that the pieces were found in the home of a jihadi leader in eastern Mosul, which Iraqi authorities confirmed had been “fully liberated” earlier this week. Most of the artifacts were ancient pottery and vases, and the Telegraph cites Iraqi media as placing the original location of these pieces at Nimrud or “the nearby Nineveh Ruins site.”
The ancient Assyrian empire, for which Nimrud served as a capital, gave the nation Syria its name. The ethnic Assyrian community is currently largely Christian and has been under heavy persecution by the Islamic State for years.
The Telegraph also posted video from local television showing the items in question:


LINK TO VIDEO 


While the find will bring some hope to the archaeologists who dedicated their lives to protecting these historical items, Iraqi forces also confirmed the immense cultural destruction that Mosul has suffered in the over two years that it has been under Islamic State control. While Iraqi military leaders confirmed its recapture, they also confirmed that the ancient tomb of Jonah had indeed been destroyed, as news reports indicated in 2014. Voice of America confirmed with the forces involved that the tomb was not only destroyed but the terrorist group “dug several tunnels under it in search for artifacts.”
While no longer in control of the site, Nimrud itself will require extreme rehabilitation to return to its previous complete state. As the ancient Assyrian capital was host to a variety of thousand-year-old religious artifacts, including icons of ancient Pagan gods, the Islamic State destroyed all they could not sell. The terrorist group considers it an Islamic duty to destroy all “icons” that defy the alleged glory of Allah, and they have systematically targeted museums and archaeological sites for destruction. An archaeologist speaking to the Associated Press said she believed that only 40 percent of Nimrud could be recovered.
Other pivotal cultural sites the Islamic State has targeted for destruction include Mosul’s Alqush Museum, the city’s ancient gates, and the University of Mosul, which the terrorists converted into a bomb factory.
What the Islamic State has not destroyed, it has sold. Last year, Russia’s envoy to the UN presented a study that concluded the Islamic State was generating up to $200 million a year in black market sales of ancient artifacts. A year earlier, studies suggested that this profit was part of a larger $80-million-a-month haul for the Islamic State, including sales of drugs and plundered oil as well as the collection of the jizya (infidel tax) on non-Muslims trapped in Islamic State areas.
Iraqi authorities and their allies appear confident that they will defeat the Islamic State in Mosul soon. A coalition including U.S. flight support and ground aid from the Kurdish Peshmerga began the operation to eradicate the group from Iraqi’s second-largest city in October. Maj. Gen. Joe Martin, commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq, told the Kurdish outlet Rudaw earlier this week that the Islamic State was “on the run” and “crumbling.”
“Daesh has quickly collapsed and no one expected such collapse,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday. “The heroism of our security forces was behind Daesh’s defeat.”




Calgary doctors on Samaritan's Purse medical mission treat victims in northern Iraq

Calgary doctors on Samaritan's Purse medical mission treat victims in northern Iraq

Published on: January 29, 2017 


Bomb blasts, gunfire, women and children peppered with shrapnel — these were some of the experiences of one Calgary cardiologist working at an emergency field hospital in Mosul, Iraq.
Dr. Karas — whose real name can’t be disclosed for security reasons — recently returned to Canada from a three-week medical mission with Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, treating those injured in the ongoing battle between ISIS and Iraqi government forces.
Before the medical field station was set up near Mosul, Karas said wounded patients were making a three-hour trek to the city of Erbil for medical attention, many dying along the way.
Doling out care closer to the front lines, where sounds of artillery blasts rang ceaselessly through the day and night, was risky, but Karas said that was where help was most needed.
“What I saw was beyond my expectations and imagination,” Karas said. “In the beginning, I felt the emotion of anger because I felt life was not fair. Why are women and children suffering like this?”
Karas treated families, mostly women and children, fleeing villages ISIS had infiltrated, many landing in his care with gunshot wounds, embedded bomb fragments and injuries from landmines.
But Karas said he grew conflicted when he was forced to serve another kind of victim — ISIS patients.
“I would be taking care of a young kid injured from an ISIS weapon, and five minutes later I’d have to help a suspected ISIS patient,” he said. “It was this weird thing offering medical care to both of them at the same time without discrimination or feeling a negative thought — it was difficult as a human to balance the emotions inside me.”
Calgary emergency medical physician Dr. Tim — who also cannot release his real name for security reasons — is setting out for Mosul in early February to join the Samaritan’s Purse medical mission.
While aware of the risks the journey poses, Tim said the plight of innocent civilians affected by the devastation in northern Iraq was something he couldn’t turn his back on.
“One of our main priorities is helping civilians trapped in a desperate situation,” Tim said. “There’s no one really going over there to help, and Samaritan’s Purse is stepping in to serve. To be a part of that is incredible.”
Karas, who is now back on Canadian soil, said the trip shed a new light on the life he lives at home.
“We live in luxury. We don’t see what’s happening around us,” he said. “When we see the reality of what’s happening in a city like Mosul, the world is much bigger than us. It’s changed my life.”
For more information or to donate, visit: samaritanspurse.ca/


Beaten, electrocuted and abused: Kurds accused of torturing Isis child soldier suspects

Beaten, electrocuted and abused: Kurds accused of torturing Isis child soldier suspects


 

Kurdish soldiers in northern Iraq have been accused of electrocuting, beating and burning suspected Islamic State (Isis) child soldiers as young as 11 with cigarettes in a damning report by Human Rights Watch.
At least 17 children – all but one of which are Sunni Arabs from former Isis-held territory in northern Iraq – have alleged abuse and torture at the hands of Kurdish security services after being rounded up at a refugee camp 40 kilometres south of the Kurdish capital of Erbil.

They say that the Kurdistan regional Government (KRG) security forces – known as the Asayish – punched and kicked them, held them in stress positions and beat them with plastic pipes and cables. Nine of the young boys claimed to have been subjected to electric shocks.
A 14-year-old boy told Human Rights Watch that he was threatened with rape unless he confessed to being affiliated with Isis, while two others said they had considered suicide because of their treatment by the Asayish.
Kurdish forces with US backing have liberated swathes of northern Iraq over the past two years and Arab refugees from Mosul and other IS-held areas have flooded into Iraqi Kurdistan. The influx has presented security concerns for the KRG, which fears that IS could have infiltrated Kurdish territory.
Human Rights Watch claimed that in all 17 cases, the children had not been offered access to a lawyer and most had not been allowed to contact family members despite being held for many months. Nearly all the children said that they had eventually confessed to having worked with IS to end the torture.
"Legitimate security concerns do not give security forces license to beat, manhandle, or use electric shocks on children," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Many children escaping from Isis are victims who need help, yet face further abuse by Asayish forces."
Isis (Daesh) has often used children – known as the 'Caliphate Cubs' – in its propaganda videos and journalists that have covered the Battle for Mosul have reported seeing the bodies of fighters as young as 15 on the streets. As Isis increasingly finds itself on the back foot in Iraq, it has reportedly stepped up its use of children as suicide bombers and rank-and-file fighters.

Human Rights Watch reported that at last 183 children – all boys – were currently being held on IS-related accusations and some of those its researchers interviewed had freely admitted that they received religious or weapons-related training from the jihadi group when it controlled their towns and villages.
But they also claimed that Asayish officers had forced them to confess to more serious crimes, such as the murder of Peshmerga forces or participation in battles.
"KRG authorities should ensure the well-being of children captured after living under Isis and not mistreat them," Fakih said. "The brutal abuse of children produces false confessions, can cause lifelong suffering, and blurs the moral line between Isis and its foes."
In a response to the report, Dindar Zebari, a deputy minister in the KRG, said that the use of torture and physical punishment against all prisoners was strictly prohibited under both the UN Convention Against Torture and the Iraqi constitution. Zebari added that added that "no cases have been reported against the arrest procedure or misconduct at arrest by Asayish against a civilian."
In a separate statement, the KRG said: "Any member of staff or officers from the Ministry of Interior and the Asayish who overlooks allegations of mistreatment and torture will have legal action taken against them."


Iraqi forces discover chemical agent in Mosul

Iraqi forces discover chemical agent in Mosul

Updated:January 29, 2017 

Iraqi forces discovered a mustard chemical warfare agent in eastern Mosul alongside a cache of Russian surface-to-surface missiles, an Iraqi officer said on Saturday.
Iraqi and U.S. officials have repeatedly warned of Islamic State (IS) group’s efforts to develop chemical weapons. When Iraqi forces retook Mosul University earlier this month, they found chemistry labs they believed had been converted into makeshift chemical weapons labs.
Iraqi special forces Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil said French officials tested the Mosul chemical this week and confirmed it was a mustard agent.
The number of casualties due to IS chemical weapons is a small fraction compared to the hundreds of civilians killed in car and suicide bombings carried out by the group.
Experts say that is largely due to the low grade of the weapons and the group’s lack of access to efficient delivery systems.
The types of rockets found at the site suggest the IS was attempting to weaponise the chemical agent, Brig. Gen. Fadhil said. — AP

Not only people are being liberated from ISIL

Not only people are being liberated from ISIL

 

When Iraqi security forces retook eastern Mosul from Islamic State (ISIL) in early January, they made sure to raise the national flag at a strategic point. No, it was not a military position. Rather, the flag went up at Mosul University, which was once one of the premier educational institutions in the Middle East.
In its liberation, the school was reclaimed as a light of learning against the darkness imposed on the campus by the militant group. Students and faculty quickly made plans to restore the university’s legacy as a vital force in modernizing Iraq with advanced knowledge and the highest ideals of humanity.
After ISIL captured Mosul in 2014, it used the sprawling university as its headquarters in Iraq. Engineering labs were turned into chemical-weapons factories. Other buildings were used to make car bombs. ISIL burned much of the library. While some classes were retained, mainly to teach technical topics, courses in the humanities, law, political science, and the arts were banned or altered. These core topics, so essential to running modern societies, did not fit into the ISIL ideology. Much of the faculty was forced to flee while a few were killed. Female students were restricted to studying health care.
With international aid, many professors were given temporary posts in foreign universities. Via the internet, they taught thousands of their students who had also fled to cities such as Kirkuk. The desire for higher education among Iraqis could not be extinguished by ISIL.
Mosul University had long served as a melting pot for Iraq, welcoming students of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. This purpose helped reinforce the study of such concepts as individual rights and universal liberty and equality. These virtues can bind countries under a secular government that respects freedom of religion.
Across the Arab world, education has become an important driver of progress. Between 1990 and 2010, the overall literacy rate in the region rose from 58 percent to 80 percent while postsecondary education has risen to nearly 25 percent.
In a United Nations report last year, a group of Arab scholars noted a shift among young people that is ushering in a new cultural epoch.
 “Already this generation of highly motivated and connected youth is upending expectations. More educated than their parents and highly empowered, they are part of a ‘Participation Revolution’ occurring across the region, where citizens are demanding roles in all aspects of their country’s political, economic, and social life,” the report stated.
The latest evidence of this trend can be found at Mosul University, freshly free and rebounding as a dynamic center for ideas and growth.
 

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Local force expected to keep ‘peace and stability’ in east Mosul

Local force expected to keep ‘peace and stability’ in east Mosul

28/1/2017 

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq has created a “hold force” of local fighters from Nineveh who will move into east Mosul to provide security for the population once that side of the city has been declared free of all ISIS remnants.
 
“The peace and stability that’s been established by the brave fighting that the Iraqis and Peshmerga forces have done here in the last few months has to be preserved with a hold force,” coalition spokesperson Col. John Dorrian told Rudaw TV on Friday.
 
The force will consist of local fighters and will deployed in the days ahead, Dorrian explained.
 
Yahya Rasoul, spokesperson for the Iraqi defense ministry and joint military command, told Rudaw TV earlier that this hold force will consist of “forces from the heroic Iraqi army in partnership with the command of the Nineveh police, and Hashd al-Shaabi from the people of Nineveh.”
 
The force will be headed by the commander of the 16th Division who will command and control the east side of the city, Maj. Gen. Joe Martin, commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq, said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
 
However, according to Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Yarallah, commander for the Nineveh Operations, it appears that the same forces that drove ISIS out of eastern Mosul will be the ones holding the liberated sector.
 
“After the liberation of the left coast of Mosul, the mission to hold the ground on the eastern side has been tasked to the joint forces of the Iraqi army, the Counter Terrorism Forces, the Quick Response, the Federal Police, the Nineveh police, and the Hashd al-Shaabi from the people of Nineveh,” Yarallah said in a press release on Friday.
 
At the moment, Iraqi security forces are clearing the east side of Mosul building by building before handing control over to the hold force. This clearing process takes times but “Transitioning to that hold force is a high priority,” Martin said.
 

VIDEO: Iraqi Forces Raise Flag in Celebration in Mosul

Iraqi Forces Raise Flag in Celebration in Mosul

1/28/2017



WATCH THE VIDEO

Thursday, 26 January 2017

IS video reveals high-tech weaponised drone attacks in Mosul

IS video reveals high-tech weaponised drone attacks in Mosul

25 January, 2017



The Islamic State group [IS] have released a new video, revealing the use of advanced weaponised drones in the flashpoint Iraqi city of Mosul.
IS' media office in Mosul put out the five-minute video this week of footage filmed from drones as they dropped bomblets on Iraqi security forces.
"Give them a nightmare from above their heads to keep them sleepless and vexed with drone aircraft," a voiceover says at the start of the video before an IS chant begins to play.

The short film shows the incredibly accurate explosives targeting gatherings of troops, tanks and military vehicles. The small bombs appear to leave several soldiers wounded.
Masters of invention, IS extremists have booby-trapped household appliances and turned cars into armoured suicide bombs as they try to hold back Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul
Last year, armed groups in the Syrian war such as Hizballah began weaponising surveillance drones and using them against each other.

A video belonging to an al-Qaeda offshoot - Jund al-Aqsa - purportedly showed a drone dropping a bomb on a Syrian regime military barracks.
The newly released IS video shows off a leap forward in the extremist group's drone technology, last November the extremists were still making make-shift drones with wood and flying flimsy devices rigged with explosives into troops.
Iraqi forces retook the last area of Mosul east of the Tigris River on Tuesday, 100 days into an offensive whose next phase aid groups warned could have dire consequences for civilians.
Army units flushed out IS fighters from a rural area on the northern edge of Mosul, completing an important step in Iraq's largest military operation in years.
The three months it took to reconquer Mosul's east saw some tough fighting, but even deadlier battles are expected on its west bank, home to the narrow streets of the Old City and some of IS' traditional redoubts.
That has sparked deep concern among the aid community over the fate of the estimated 750,000 civilians still believed to live in western Mosul.
Tens of thousands of security forces now surround the extremists in west Mosul, who are all but trapped in the city where their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed his "caliphate" in 2014.



16,000 Children in Eastern Mosul Attend School for the First Time Post-ISIS Control

16,000 Children in Eastern Mosul Attend School for the First Time Post-ISIS Control



Less than a week after fighting reportedly came to a halt in East Mosul between ISIS and national Iraqi forces, people have begun to get back to their normal routine which includes children attending school.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued a statement on Tuesday saying that over 16,000 children were able to attend school as of this past Sunday.
An experience that comes after the “nightmare of the past two years,” Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Iraq said. Adding that, “this is a pivotal moment for the children of Mosul to reclaim their education and their hope for a better future.”
For many in Mosul, the future in terms of education seemed bleak as they watched the hands of ISIS “permanently annul” history, literature and Christianity related classes when they started to gain power back in 2014.
During that same year news report explained that at the time many schools within Mosul were experiencing lower levels of student attendance because of fear and uncertainty among families when it came to the terrorist’s next steps.
The movements made by the extremists included the banning of education for girls as well as a variety of human rights violations like sexual assault.
Iraqi Christian Women Hid for Hours, Prayed as ISIS Terrorized Their Dorm
Hawkins stated in an interview with Faithwire, “I can only imagine what it is like especially for the girls.”
“Most of the girls haven’t been to school in two to three years. The excitement and the fact that there is someone there that will pay attention to them must be an incredible feeling. And being with other children and getting into some sort of routine and structure after everything they have been through” is an excellent step.
However, the humanitarian official explained that, that the western part of the city is still in desperate need of help, as the people there are still engrossed in turmoil and daily battles between fighters and terrorists.
It has now become a place where “There is no freedom of movement, it is totally surrounded and it is almost totally cut off,” Hawkins said.
“There are upwards of 300,000 children in the western part of the city who are stuck” which means no opportunity to pursue an education.


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

ISIS Media Release for January 24, 2017

VIDEOS


1. Knights of Diwan:



The second major video release in the month of January 2017 came as Iraqi PM al-Abadi announced the liberation of East Mosul. The video, titled "Knights of Diwan" stands out for its first-ever footage of more than a dozen bomb attacks launched from drones. The video was released on ISIS terrorist channels on January 24 from “Wilayat Ninawa,” ISIS’ name for the Nineveh Governorate of Iraq that includes Mosul. You can watch the trailer for the video that was released a day earlier here.










English terrorist channels later released the video with the title translated as “The Knights of Dawawin,” instead choosing to use the Arabic word for “administrative bureau.”

In the 38-minute video, ISIS is shown conducting suicide bombings in Mosul. However, the highlight and premise of the video is the footage of Islamic State militants using UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to carry and drop bombs on American coalition forces.

ISIS has been using “exploding drones” for months, however this is the first footage of them doing so. In October 2016, The New York Times reported that the Pentagon was struggling with a new aerial threat from ISIS.

The UAVs shown in the video have about 5-6′ wingspans and repeatedly take out soldiers and tanks.

According to Rita Katz, director of the terrorism watchdog SITE Intelligence Group, the explosions from the UAV are much smaller than those of VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) ops, but may be used to conserve the population of would-be suicide bombers in ISIS’ ranks.

Also featured in the video was a suicide attacker who appears no older than 14, continuing #ISIS' ongoing trend of using kids in such ops pic.twitter.com/cvz4mwNKm8


The video can be viewed on these sites:

VIDEO: People of Mosul speak out against Deash

Jan 24, 2017 

The eastern part of Mosul has been freed from the Daesh terror group after a large military operation by the Iraqi forces. People are now finally able to go back to rebuild their lives. The residents across Mosul suffered under harsh Daesh laws over the past two years.
Ali Musawi reports from Mosul.

WATCH THE VIDEO

Hundreds of families leave Iraq camps for Mosul return

Hundreds of families leave Iraq camps for Mosul return



Khazir (Iraq) (AFP) - Hundreds of families who fled Mosul last year left displacement camps Wednesday to head back to their homes, in the biggest wave yet of returns to the city, officials said.
Displaced Mosul residents hurled bags and foam mattresses into vans and onto buses, many smiling as they prepared to forsake a place they often first reached scared, hungry and exhausted.
Iraqi forces recently completed their recapture of eastern Mosul, which tens of thousands of people had fled since the October 17 start of a massive offensive against the Islamic State (IS) group.
According to the United Nations, more than 180,000 people have been displaced since the start of the offensive but at least 22,000 have since returned to their homes.
The authorities have been organising returns from Khazir and Hasansham displacement camps twice a week.
"We are now taking 500 families, which means 2,700 people, to their liberated houses," local official Mustafa Hamid Sarhan told AFP at the Khazir camp, which lies southeast of Mosul.
"This is the biggest wave," he added, as at least 50 buses lined up for families cleaning up their tents and packing their belongings for the journey home.
One of them was Dhabbah Mohammed Khader, a 45-year-old woman from the neighbourhood of Al-Zahraa who was about to return to her home with two of her sons.
"I'm so happy we finally got rid of Daesh," she said, using an Arabic acronym for IS.
"We can go back home now," said the woman, tears running down her wrinkled face.
- 'Paradise' -
The continued presence in east Mosul of hundreds of civilians as Iraqi forces advanced through the streets has restricted all sides in their choice of weapons and the city has suffered relatively limited destruction.
"I am so happy to be going home, close to my people," said Salha Ahmed, a widow and mother of seven, as she rolled up the rug covering the gravel in shelter number 81 of Khazir camp.
When she finished packing, she left her poky shelter with no regrets but said she was a little nervous at the idea of returning to Mosul.
Her house was damaged in the fighting and several of her children and grandchildren were still living in another displacement camp further south.
"We have suffered a lot, we have been shattered," she muttered absently, her eyes watering. She said that one of her sons was killed by the Islamic State group for an unknown reason.
"We're tired, we don't know what to do. Should we stay or should we go? I'm confused."
Salima Khdeir, who lived in the tent next to hers, came to say goodbye.
She also made a request to go home but she and her four children were not included in Wednesday's batch.
"It's nice to see them go, it means our turn will come. But I'm also sad I have to stay here while they're allowed to go home," she said.
Some level of normalcy is returning to parts of east Mosul, especially areas far from the Tigris, along which elite forces are preparing a likely cross-river assault on the city's jihadist-held west bank.
The scars of the conflict are everywhere however, electricity and water are scarce, as are some basic goods.
Salah Ahmed said she knew her new life in Mosul would be tough.
But as she waded in the mud to clamber onto the truck with her bags and waved goodbye to her camp neighbours, the grandmother was adamant: "Despite the circumstances, Mosul is a paradise."

Some Mosul Residents Face New Fears after ISIS Rule

Some Mosul Residents Face New Fears after ISIS Rule

January 25, 2017 


Mosul- Mohamed Mahmoud is relieved he no longer has to watch ISIS militants hang corpses from electricity poles, now that Iraqi forces have cleared the group from his east Mosul district. But he still fears for his safety. Like other Iraqis, he worries that destructive forces like sectarianism, which already provoked one civil war since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, will destabilize Iraq even if ISIS is completely removed from Mosul.

The hardline jihadists were welcomed by some residents when they seized Mosul in 2014 because Sunnis felt marginalized by the government in Baghdad.
Those bitter feelings have not faded, adding to the sense of uncertainty in a city with rows of buildings pulverized by airstrikes and desperate for water and electricity supplies.
“I have to do paperwork in Baghdad. But I am afraid to go there. I may be killed because I am a Sunni,” said Mahmoud, 68.

Iraqi forces have retaken most of east Mosul and are preparing to widen their offensive against ISIS to the western part of the city. Gunshots rang out and mortar bombs were fired near the Tigris River, which divides east and west.
A few Mosul residents stood on streets inspecting the destruction, wondering where the Iraqi state would find the resources to rebuild what was once a trade hub and one of the most tolerant cities in the Middle East.

Few shops were open.
“There is no budget,” Abdel Sattar al Hibbo, head of the Mosul municipality, told Reuters as he walked down a road surrounded by buildings flattened by airstrikes.
Hibbo, who said he was shot several times by al Qaeda militants before ISIS was established, also has other worries.
“There were thousands of Daesh members here. They killed some and caught some. The ones who were left over, some just shaved their beards and blended in with the population,” he said.
Across town in the Mohandiseen district, there were plenty of reminders of ISIS’ reign of terror. Anyone who did not have the right-sized beard or trousers of the prescribed length was whipped.
A violation of a ban on televisions and mobile phones was punishable by beatings, jail, or worse.
Standing outside his house, which was taken over by the jhadists, Mohamed Ibrahim recalls how he was on the ISIS blacklist, reaching into his jacket pocket for a court document. “They accused me of refusing to grow the right sized beard. They summoned me to court,” he said.
A nearby house once served as a holding area for women, possibly some of the numerous people that ISIS turned into sex slaves. Baby strollers and clothes were abandoned in a room.
Next door was a makeshift prison and torture center, where plastic handcuffs were scattered in a courtyard.
ISIS had taken the owner’s possessions, including children’s toys, and thrown it out onto a rooftop. On top of the pile of belongings lay an icepick with a bloodied handle.
“We used to hear the screaming at night,” said a neighborhood resident, who declined to give his name for fear of reprisals against his relatives, who live in west Mosul.

ISIS uses remittance companies to obtain money, says Iraqi judicial council

ISIS uses remittance companies to obtain money, says Iraqi judicial council 11 April 2017 (NRRTV)     SULAIMANI – The Iraqi Higher ...