Iraqis unite behind campaign to free Mosul
The military campaign to free Mosul from the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) has united the Iraqi people in support of the liberating forces, officials told Diyaruna.
In nearby al-Qayyarah district, which was liberated from ISIL in August , resident Maher Najm, 42, has been providing food for the police officers who opened a security checkpoint near his home for weeks.
"We received them as if they were our family, and we live with them as siblings who love each other," he told Diyaruna. "We are all Iraqis, and the soil of this country brings us together. Terrorism will not divide us anymore."
"ISIL elements wanted it to be a sectarian and nationalist battle," he added. "They tried to scare us away from our liberating forces, but we supported them and failed their bets, showing our unity and cohesion."
One of the most important victories of the battle for Mosul is that it boosted public awareness about the importance of uniting against a single enemy, said Ninawa provincial council member Abdul Rahman al-Wakaa.
The harsh treatment ISIL meted out to all people under its control is a clear indication that terrorism does not represent a particular religion or sect, he said.
"When ISIL overran Mosul, the group tried to appeal to the residents, claiming it came to rescue them and that it represents them and defends their rights," he told Diyaruna. "There are those who were deceived by its statement."
"But people soon discovered the truth of that group through the massacres it committed against all Iraqi sects and minorities, in addition to its crimes against their heritage and civilisation , and that it is only a terrorist group seeking desolation and darkness," he said.
When the liberation operations began, he added, residents came to support their troops against ISIL, making it clear "they are with the rule of law and the state and with the unity of the Iraqi social fabric".
National unity has been in evidence since the early days of ISIL's incursion, when the group detained and executed dozens of Mosul youth who denounced its crimes against their Yazidi brothers and the trade in their women, he said.
"Today, national unity is obvious in the liberated areas and neighbourhoods of Mosul, where residents opened their homes to military and police forces," he said.
They have been co-operating with the security forces and sharing food with them "without anyone asking another to which sect, religion or ethnicity he belongs", al-Wakaa said. "All are Iraqis and brothers."
ISIL suffered a miserable failure in driving a wedge between the residents of Mosul, who are known for their peaceful co-existence, Ninawa provincial council member Luqman Rashidi told Diyaruna.
"This group brought destruction to all Iraqis, and no one escaped its crimes," he said, adding that the group believes "anyone who does not agree with it or support it is an infidel or apostate who must be killed".
Residents trapped in Mosul have shown their sympathy with the victims of ISIL's crimes against their brethren from all religions and ethnicities on numerous occasions, he said, and have not been afraid to show that sympathy in public.
"There are a lot of mass graves discovered in Ninawa for victims killed by ISIL in which Iraqi blood was mixed," he said.
Turning the page on terrorism
"After their liberation from the authority of terrorism, residents have gone back to carrying out their daily business in an atmosphere of brotherhood, harmony and co-ordination between them and the security forces," Rashidi said.
"The residents are living in peace and they are all enthusiastic to rebuild their areas and turn the page on terrorism forever," he said.
The broad level of support shown by Iraqis of all religions, sects and ethnicities for the liberating forces shocked ISIL, Ninawa provincial council member Seydou Hussein al-Tatani told Diyaruna.
"This battle revealed a popular and patriotic movement opposing ISIL and all those whose hands are stained with the blood of innocent people or who supported it and assisted it in the commission of its heinous crimes," he said.
The battle also helped draw political parties together and strengthen their resolve to jointly tackle terrorism, he said, as ISIL is a common enemy that must be fought with a collective effort.
"The liberating forces currently include all components of Iraqi society," he said. "There is the army, national police forces, Peshmerga, tribal members, Christians and Yazidis," he said. "This solidarity in itself is a victory."