Liberating Mosul, Reconciling Sunni Iraqis
"They arrested me while sleeping a friends' house on the east side."
"They suspected me when I showed them my ID that says I live on the other side."
Mohammed Ayad, Mosul, Iraq
"I feel like a third-class citizen, like an Indian who will now have to live in a reservation."
"It is like they jailed us here."
Mosul resident, displaced persons camp
" I really cannot blame them for being apprehensive about the return of government rule."
"It is their right to feel that way. Before Daesh, there was too much corruption and the security forces did nothing to help people."
Military commander, Mosul, speaking anonymously
|Iraq's elite counterterrorism forces gather villagers for preliminary investigation before taking them to displaced people camps in the village of Tob Zawa, about 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) from Mosul, Iraq|
This is the fate of Sunni Iraqis, to be held in suspicion by their government, by its military. But it is the Iranian-linked Shiite militias who exercise the noxious spirit of sectarian hatred whose actions spur Sunnis to shudder in apprehension. The mostly Sunni residents of Mosul appear not to have fully appreciated living under ISIL rule, and now that the city is being liberated and they take the opportunity to flee the remaining conflict they are held in suspicion.
But this is not new, by any means, it is an old complaint, that Shiite-dominated security forces view Mosul residents with suspicion, targeting them indiscriminately. At a camp of displaced people south of Mosul complaints are rife of Federal Police refusing them entry to their homes in areas taken from ISIL, that are now supposed to be safe. In areas other than Mosul taken from ISIL, complaints of violent abuse are rife.
As long as ISIL continues to bomb and shoot inside the recaptured areas they have been routed from the military suspects that among the population sleeper cells sympathetic to ISIL operate. "All a Daesh member has to do is take off his clothes and shave his beard and he becomes a regular citizen. That is why we cannot drop our guard", explained the military commander in Mosul.
Men, women and children fleeing Mosul must wait for hours beside a main road outside Mosul for security officials to post their names on a database searching for potential ISIL links before they are permitted to go on to shelter from bitter cold, rain and wind. Once cleared, most are loaded onto army trucks and taken to holding camps.
Since the offensive against ISIL in Mosul began, an estimated 120,000 people have fled, leaving the cash-strapped government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to provide medical care, food, water and heating fuel to residents remaining within Mosul, along with those who have fled. Many people are left without any of the distributed food and water due to chaotic distribution conditions.
Iraqi special forces east of Mosul probed a network of underground tunnels and uncovered a bomb-making facility in a village recently retaken from the Islamic State group as their allies battled the militants in a push toward the city from the south.