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Endtimes in Mosul

On 22 May, Ahmed Mohsen, an unemployed taxi driver, left his house in the Islamic State-controlled western part of Mosul to try to escape across the Tigris to the government-held eastern side of the city. He and his mother, along with ten other people, carried rubber tyres down to the river: most of them couldn’t swim, and they planned to tie them together to make a raft. The siege of Mosul was in its seventh month and Ahmed was both desperate and starving: he and his mother were living on handfuls of wheat they cooked, though he said it made him feel sick. His friends believe that lack of food made him light-headed and led him to risk crossing the river. ‘Even if I die in the river,’ he told them, ‘it will be better than living here.’

IS snipers were shooting people who tried to leave. Their commanders calculated that holding the civilian population hostage, as human shields, would deter Iraqi government troops and the US-led coalition air forces from using the full extent of their firepower. This strategy had worked, to an extent, during the siege of east Mosul, which began on 17 October; it was three months before that part of the city was captured. But by the time the assault on west Mosul began on 19 February there was little sign of Iraqi or American restraint. As the bombardment intensified, the only plausible escape route for Ahmed was across the Tigris between the Fifth and Sixth Bridges, both of which had been put out of action by coalition airstrikes. He had already seen IS snipers kill three people who’d tried to cross and his luck was no better: a sniper shot him in the back and killed him, along with nine other members of his party, before they had even put their tyres in the water. Only one man, a good swimmer, got across to the other side. According to people living in houses overlooking the riverbank, Ahmed’s mother stayed beside his body for three days. Nobody dared to go to help her because they were afraid of being shot; on the third day, they say, they could no longer see her or the body of her son. They were probably thrown into the river, like hundreds of others.

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n16/patrick-cockburn/endtimes-in-mosul

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2017 in Middle East

 

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The world’s lack of outrage over tens of thousands of civilian deaths in Mosul is shameful 

The catastrophic number of civilian casualties in Mosul is receiving little attention internationally from politicians and journalists. This is in sharp contrast to the outrage expressed worldwide over the bombardment of east Aleppo by Syrian government and Russian forces at the end of 2016.

Hoshyar Zebari, the Kurdish leader and former Iraqi finance and foreign minister, told me in an interview last week: “Kurdish intelligence believes that over 40,000 civilians have been killed as a result of massive firepower used against them, especially by the Federal Police, air strikes and Isis itself.”

The real number of dead who are buried under the mounds of rubble in west Mosul is unknown, but their numbers are likely to be in the tens of thousands, rather than the much lower estimates previously given.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/west-mosul-mass-civilian-casualties-death-isis-iraq-us-coalition-aleppo-russia-a7853586.html

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2017 in Middle East

 

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The massacre of Mosul: 40,000 feared dead in battle to take back city from Isis as scale of civilian casualties revealed

More than 40,000 civilians were killed in the devastating battle to retake Mosul from Isis, according to intelligence reports revealed exclusively to The Independent – a death toll far higher than previous estimates.

Residents of the besieged city were killed by Iraqi ground forces attempting to force out militants, as well as by air strikes and Isis fighters, according to Kurdish intelligence services.

Hoshyar Zebari, until recently a senior minister in Baghdad, told The Independent that many bodies “are still buried under the rubble”. “The level of human suffering is immense,” he said.

“Kurdish intelligence believes that over 40,000 civilians have been killed as a result of massive firepower used against them, especially by the federal police, air strikes and Isis itself,” Mr Zebari added.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/mosul-massacre-battle-isis-iraq-city-civilian-casualties-killed-deaths-fighting-forces-islamic-state-a7848781.html

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2017 in Middle East

 

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More than just revenge: Why Isis fighters are being thrown off buildings in Mosul 

Iraqi security forces kill Isis prisoners because they believe that if the militants are sent to prison camps they will bribe the authorities in Baghdad to release them. “That is why Iraqi soldiers prefer to shoot them or throw them off high buildings,” says one Iraqi source. A former senior Iraqi official said he could name the exact sum that it would take for an Isis member to buy papers enabling him to move freely around Iraq.

The belief by Iraqi soldiers and militiamen that their own government is too corrupt to keep captured Isis fighters in detention is one reason why the bodies of Isis suspects, shot in the head or body and with their hands tied behind their backs, are found floating in the Tigris river downstream from Mosul. Revenge and hatred provoked by Isis atrocities are motives for extrajudicial killings by death squads, but so is distrust of an Iraqi judicial system, which is notoriously corrupt and dysfunctional.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-mosul-iraq-fighters-killed-thrown-off-buildings-reasons-corruption-revenge-patrick-cockburn-a7845846.html

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Don’t underestimate Iraq’s historic victory against Isis – though the human cost was great

Northern Iraq is one of the most fought over places on earth. Ancient and modern fortifications are everywhere. Just outside Erbil is the site of the battle of Gaugamela where Alexander the Great defeated the Persian army in 331 BC. Saddam Hussein’s soldiers fought the Kurds here for decades. But the nine-month long struggle for Mosul between Iraqi government forces and Isis, which just ended, is probably the most important and decisive battle ever fought in this region.

It is ending with a victory of historic proportions for the Iraqi government which will go far to shape the political future of not just Iraq, but the region as a whole. Isis, which for three years had an army, administration and territory making it more powerful than many members of the UN, has been defeated. It will revert to guerrilla warfare, but it will no longer be in control of a state machine through which it exercised its monstrous rule.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/iraq-mosul-isis-defeat-win-us-coalition-air-strikes-human-cost-great-a7841466.html?amp

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Mosul’s Sunni residents face mass persecution as Isis ‘collaborators’

“The people of Mosul will receive their salaries, while the people of Basra will receive the bodies of their martyrs,” runs a bitter comment on Iraqi social media. Many Iraqis see the inhabitants of Mosul as willing collaborators with Isis during its three years in power in the city. In particular, there are calls for the punishment of “Daesh [Isis] families” whose male members had become Isis fighters or officials.

The desire for revenge runs deep among the victims of Isis in the wake of the fall of Mosul, which is scarcely surprising given the cruelty and violence of Isis rule. “I can always tell members of Daesh families when they ask for medical treatment,” said a volunteer medical worker in west Mosul. “They have plump faces and look well-fed, while everybody else in Mosul is thin and malnourished.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/mosul-sunni-residents-isis-collaboration-persecution-city-liberation-iraq-fighters-killed-massacres-a7839716.html?amp

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Hunt for Isis fighters goes on despite declaration of victory in Mosul

Days after Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, declared victory over Islamic State forces in Mosul, emaciated figures were still emerging from tunnels and basements in the shattered city on Wednesday: old men carried on the backs of their sons and women wearing dusty, tattered abayas, dragging behind them their parched and thirsty children.

In the shadow of what had once been the city’s 12th century al-Nuri mosque, blown up by Isis fighters last month in the final, desperate days of battle, a special forces officer pointed at the families who were limping out of the ruins without a male relative.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/13/isis-hunt-despite-victory-in-mosul

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2017 in Middle East

 

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The New Silk Road Will Go Through Syria

Amid the proverbial doom and gloom pervading all things Syria, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune sometimes yield, well, good fortune.

Take what happened this past Sunday in Beijing. The China-Arab Exchange Association and the Syrian Embassy organized a Syria Day Expo crammed with hundreds of Chinese specialists in infrastructure investment. It was a sort of mini-gathering of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), billed as “The First Project Matchmaking Fair for Syria Reconstruction”.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/07/14/the-new-silk-road-will-go-through-syria/

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2017 in Asia, Middle East

 

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The battle for Mosul is won. But can Iraq survive?

It is widely accepted that Islamic State’s defeat in Mosul, declared this weekend, ends a battle but not a war, and that the group’s thousands of jihadi supporters could turn in revenge to targeted suicide bombings in the west as well as in cities in Iraq and Syria. What has been less often predicted is the risk of mass violence from a different quarter. Iraqis themselves may slip back into fraternal conflict now that their temporary need to unite against Isis is almost over.Three years of war against the Islamist extremists created a national sense of urgency which overcame regional, ethnic and sectarian disputes. But with Isis now on the back foot, and deprived of most of the territory it once held throughout western Iraq, old tensions could resume.One of these deep-seated Iraqi problems has clearly worsened since Isis emerged to capture Mosul in 2014. In the early months of the struggle to prevent the group from moving on to seize Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish regional government, Kurdish resistance forces occupied vast areas of the Nineveh plain east of Mosul which had long been disputed between Arabs and Kurds. The same happened in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

Source: The battle for Mosul is won. But can Iraq survive? | Jonathan Steele | Opinion | The Guardian

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Middle East

 

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Mosul families complain overuse of airstrikes killed thousands as they count their dead in wake of Isis defeat

“There were very few Daesh [Isis fighters] in our neighbourhood, but they dropped a lot of bombs on them,” says Qais, 47, a resident of the al-Jadida district of Mosul. “We reckon that the airstrikes here killed between 600 and 1,000 people.”He shows pictures on his phone of a house that had stood beside his own before it was hit by a bomb or missile that had reduced it to a heap of smashed-up bricks. “There were no Daesh in the house,” says Qais. But there were seven members of the Abu Imad family living there, of whom five were killed along with two passers-by.

Source: Mosul families complain overuse of airstrikes killed thousands as they count their dead in wake of Isis defeat | The Independent

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2017 in Middle East

 

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