Iraq At the Battle of Mosul, the anti-IS alliance does not pay much attention to civilians. An eyewitness account
Bombing is easier
by Dr. Juergen Todenhoefer
When I visited the Islamic state together with my son two years ago, we had a security guarantee from the “Caliph” as the self-proclaimed leader of the IS called. This time, nothing is comparable to us in Mosul. The reception was correspondingly metal-containing. The nearer we came to the positions of the IS, the more violent were the attacks. Again and again we heard the shooting of shells, the chattering of machine guns. The Iraqi special forces who accompanied us are accustomed to this hellish noise.
In the middle of the busy city, we meet US soldiers in Iraqi uniforms and Shi’i military without distinction on a building secured by Humvees and Tanks. An Iraqi officer, or an American in Iraqi uniform, said to me, laughing, “There are things there. And things that do not exist, even if you describe them so closely. War is a shadowy realm. “US officers are sitting on their computers on a sunny roof terrace. They coordinate the air bombings of the anti-IS alliance and set the targets. One of them is the conquest of the area around the Al-Nuri Mosque for the US-led coalition. In this House of God, the “Caliph” had once held his only public speech. This IS symbol will soon be conquered by the coalition. With the usual strategy?
Will US bombers again flatten whole streets and kill civilians in particular? And only then send special units that do the rest? Or will the US leadership begin at some point, as international law requires, to spare the civilian population, and to put it on special commissions? My optimism is limited. In any case, the battles become harder and harder. The IS fighters know each other in the narrow streets and alleys of West Mosul.
The brutalization of the war hits the civilian population the hardest. What have these people, mostly Sunnis, suffered in the past decades? For more than ten years the murderous sanctions of the West, then in March 2003 George W. Bush’s Lügenkrieg, (war of lies) followed by the rugged confessional discrimination by the largely Shiite government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, then medieval IS terrorism and now the “liberation bombs “The US-led coalition. According to the reports of the eye, 10,000 civilians died in the battle in Mosul, which began in October, and about 2,000 combatants of the IS were killed. The deviating figures of the US government keep people for propaganda.
There were alternatives to these bombs. Two years ago, leaders of the Sunni opposition of Iraq proposed to the White House to leave them to eliminate the “Sunni IS”. Military and ideological. Relatively fast even. The only condition is that they wanted the same rights as the Shiite majority in the political life of their country. The White House found this too tedious. Bombarding was easier.
We speak to Abdel Ghani al-Assadi, the head of the anti-terrorist units of the Iraqi army. The jovial General Major explains the strategy of his Golden Division in a cheerful mood. He was confident that the IS in Mosul would soon be beaten. Although the terrorists were professionally trained and well financed. From the powers that everyone knows. But they have nothing to do with Islam. With a Humvee of the Golden Division, we go on. Soldiers take us to the top floor of a bombed-out high-rise building. Two sniper rifles have set their sights on IS positions. One while lying, one sitting. Motionless, they wait for the right moment. You know he’ll come. Through the target vision, we see the oblique minaret of the Al-Nuri-Mosque, just a kilometer away.
Here, as elsewhere, the devastation in West Mosul reminds of the destroyed East Aleppo, which we had visited a few weeks ago. How is it that Aleppo has dominated the headlines every day, but much less is reported about Mosul? As we reach the front in the Al-Jadida district, helpers are looking for the victims of a US attack, killing over 200 civilians. Although pictures of the massacre get out, the outcry in the West is limited. It was not Russians who threw the bombs.
The next day we are in the liberated East Mosul. From the west of the city, the usual battle noise echoes over. Even in this area we see countless destruction, albeit less than in the western part of Mosul.
Dr. Juergen Todenhoefer