It’s been a year since the US-backed Iraqi forces defeated Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in the city of Mosul that had become their de-facto capital. Baghdad has declared a major victory in the war that gripped the country for several years in a row. On the back of the liberation, disturbing reports began emerging, telling of all-out destruction, extrajudicial killings and a looming humanitarian crisis. A new report from the ground now reveals that, since then, things haven’t improved a lot.
A Ruptly crew went to the city to talk to local people who went through enormous hardships while living in war-torn Mosul. A man named Mohammed Qadir told the crew a harrowing story of his small daughter being killed in the bombings in April last year. The girl was hiding in the toilet with her little sister when a bomb struck the man’s house.
“You know when a mortar falls you hear the sound, it’s loud. When this [projectile] fell we didn’t hear it even though it was right here. This is where it happened.” Shrapnel severely mutilated the girl, but the nearby doctors refused to save her.
“They said: ‘We are not going to treat her. Our priority is the fighters. We can give her an injection so she dies immediately. Better for her to die at home.’”
As locals struggle to get their lives back to normal, decomposing corpses continue to lie under the rubble. “Yes, there are two bodies still down there. And there are four more bodies in that house behind us,” Qadir said before adding: “The stench coming from them is very strong. Our children are getting sick because of this.”
Meanwhile, Iraqi commanders warn that IS fighters may still be holing up around Mosul and the rest of the country. “No, we cannot say for sure that it is 100 percent [that IS has been eliminated]. … Still, there are few IS sleeper cells hiding in places such as the desert, the jungles, in islands of the Tigris River, and some hiding amongst civilians,” Major General Najmi Al-Juhuri told Ruptly. “We receive tens of phone calls on a daily basis, with people leading us to sleeper cells or guiding us to IS elements appearing anywhere,” he added.
Aid agencies, for their part, are sounding the alarm about the dire state of affairs in Mosul. “It is unfair to say nothing has changed there, but what call for is that the chance should go quicker,” Benoit de Gryse, operations manager with Medecines Sans Frontieres (MSF), told RT.
“We see that the level of destruction that happened a year ago is still visible, even infrastructure hasn’t been repaired yet, hospitals haven’t been reopened yet, there’s a lack of water,” he warned.
At least 2,521 civilians were killed and 1,673 wounded during the nine month Mosul operation, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in November 2017, said last year, adding that the figures should be considered an “absolute minimum.”
However, National Public Radio (NPR) said that its investigation revealed that the Mosul morgue had issued 4,865 death certificates during the battle, while AP estimated the civilian death toll between 9,000 and 11,000 people.
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