Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Iraqis fighting ISIS alongside U.S. troops criticize new ban on entering U.S.

Iraqis fighting ISIS alongside U.S. troops criticize new ban on entering U.S.

MOSUL, Iraq -- Wednesday, America’s war against ISIS came to a dead stop on the banks of the Tigris River that slices Mosul in half.
ISIS holds the high ground on the western side of the river firing constant mortars towards Iraqi troops on the other.
Maj. Arkan Hashm said ISIS was launching the rounds from a school.
Soldiers showed CBS News a house hat ISIS fighters had recently fled. In an upstairs bedroom laid forbidden toys that ISIS militants had confiscated.

With Iraqis and American soldiers fighting a common enemy, one resident said he couldn’t understand why President Trump might tighten restrictions on Iraqis traveling to the U.S.
“How is this our fault?” he said. “Why would you ban us? We are the victims. In fact, American ISIS fighters have come here.”

Troops displayed an SUV that militants had stripped, ready to be turned into a car bomb, the most feared weapon in the ISIS arsenal.
Huge craters mark the streets in areas that saw the worst of the fighting; U.S. and coalition airstrikes specifically targeted major intersections in order to disrupt the path of suicide car bombs.
Gen. Ali Al Lami said he has lost many men, but he’s disappointed that President Trump might make it near impossible for his soldiers to start a new life in the U.S.
“If America bans Muslims, it’s not the right thing to do,” he said. “America is a multi-ethnic and religious nation, a country of freedom.”
The general also said that the next and final phase against ISIS may be the toughest. It’s the old part of the city, the streets are too narrow for some military vehicles and there are still around 750,000 civilians trapped there.

Iraqis say US President Donald Trump 'has gone to war with Islam'

The sickening sound of mortars and rockets whine over our heads before exploding streets away from our position with Iraqi forces on the eastern banks of the Tigris in Mosul.
The elite Counter Terrorism Service soldiers, Iraq's SAS, don't blink an eye as they gather around us as we ask them about President Donald Trump's travel ban to the United States.
They are trained by the Americans; they fight alongside their special forces colleagues and in the battle against Islamic State they are expected to live and maybe die with the Americans.
:: UK opposition mounts over Donald Trump's travel ban
But now, likely virtually everyone else in Iraq, they are not welcome in the USA.

They were not exactly clamouring to leave their country.
In fact, as professional soldiers they would probably be the last to leave. But it is the principle; that principle feels like betrayal.
"Trump is a guy we consider to be like the leader of North Korea, he is obsessed with himself," a lieutenant told Sky News.
"The Iraqi people are intelligent but every time they deal with the Americans, the British or any other country they think that we are naive. But it is they who were weak."
After two years of oppressive IS rule and a horrendous battle to free eastern Mosul, the west still is not.

A lot of the residents drinking coffee and eating in small cafes would probably like to just get out of town, which is not that easy.
Again, they see the President's travel ban as mean and unnecessary.
"Of course I'm upset. Why would he say these things? There's no need for it. We're simple people who want to live a decent life," a man tells Sky News, shaking his head.
"I swear to God, because of IS, Islam and religion have got a bad reputation. There are now lots of problems between Muslims and Christians. It is all because of Islamic State," said another.
A third added, "I think Trump has gone to war with Islam. He's not good with the Islam. Islamic people. And he has an aim to destroy the Islamic people."

The complex relationship between Iraq and the US is exacerbated by the travel ban, especially in Mosul, where the streets are filled with rubble and enormous craters mark out virtually every major interchange.
They point out that the biggest offensive against IS is being carried out by Iraqi soldiers and even more they say that the majority of terrorists attacking in the US and in Europe come from countries that are not included in the travel ban.
Haider Kata is the Sky News producer in Baghdad.
We depend on him for everything including our safety; he is also our trusted friend.
Haider has worked for news organisations and household name journalists from all over the world and in doing so has put himself and his family in danger.

His brother was killed in a car bomb attack and that coupled with years of threats convinced him he needed to take his young family to safety and a new life in the United States.
He has filled out the forms and been interviewed, he was waiting for an answer. Now his dreams are shattered.
"I haven't even told my wife," he told me on a pavement surrounded by rubble and shrapnel in eastern Mosul.
"She said we need to go, you want to stay, but I do not. I am in danger and now I am stuck. We thought we could change our lives but our dreams are gone. I don't know what to do," he said.
It seems unlikely that Iraq will follow the path of others and reciprocate the travel ban.
But politics is complicated here and pressure could mount on the government.
Such a move would weaken the Iraqi military for sure and, ironically, would produce a major winner. It is called Islamic State.



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