What is left of Mosul: ‘We don’t belong here anymore’

Smoke rises over west Mosul’s old city. Iraqi forces are fighting street-by-street, house-by-house. The Iraqi government doesn’t publish casualty figures but the CNN crew saw many ambulances rushing toward the battle zone.

Sufian stood in the gateway of the bullet-pocked villa, sheltering from the rain. Around him were other men and teenage boys waiting to be cleared by Iraqi intelligence officers who were on the lookout for ISIS sympathizers and suspects.

Sufian was in his late teens, perhaps early twenties. When I shook his hand, it was warm and soft. The skin under his scruffy, juvenile beard had the same pallor of many people fleeing Mosul, who had spent weeks huddled indoors, often in dark basements, as the battle raged outside.

I greeted him in Arabic. He responded in English.

“Hello, how are you?” he said, smiling nervously, eying the intelligence officers nearby.
“You speak English?” I asked.

“I am capable of expressing myself adequately,” he said.

Attack helicopters clattered overhead, occasionally firing missiles and heavy machine guns into the old city. Gunfire, mortar and artillery fire boomed a few blocks away.

Related: Dramatic footage from western Mosul shows families caught in crossfire

We were trying to convince the Iraqi soldiers to let us go forward, so I left Sufian and went back to the group of intelligence officers nearby.

Our producer, Kareem Khadder, was trying to charm them. They were a tough crowd, suspicious by profession. Kareem handed out another round of cigarettes, making jokes in the hopes they would warm to us.
I knew this would take a while, so I walked down the muddy road with camerawoman Mary Rogers to have a look around Tayaran, the battered neighborhood just north of Mosul’s equally battered airport.

Smoke rises over west Mosul’s old city. Iraqi forces are fighting street-by-street, house-by-house. The Iraqi government doesn’t publish casualty figures but the CNN crew saw many ambulances rushing toward the battle zone.
I turned around and saw Sufian again, struggling to push his mother in a wheelchair through the muck.

“A real disaster,” Sufian told me, breathless. “We lost everything: our hearts, our beliefs, our belongings. We don’t belong here any more. We want peace.”

“Will you come back?” I asked.

“No, I can’t,” he said. “No more. I can’t. I’m so scared. They will kill us.”

I stopped to let them go, saying in Arabic “khair, in sha Allah,” which roughly translates as “God willing, all will be well.”

“We have Jesus,” responded Sufian. “We are going to Jesus.”

“What did Sufian say?” interjected his grandfather in Arabic, hobbling on a cane over to me.

I didn’t respond. I couldn’t fathom why someone with the very Sunni Muslim name of Sufian would say that.

Read More

Source By http://edition.cnn.com

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Related posts