http://diyaruna.com/en_GB/articles/cnmi_di/features/2019/10/11/feature-03

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Security |

ISIS mines cleared from areas of western Ninawa

By Khalid al-Taie

A picture taken on December 16th, 2018, shows the remains of "Al-Hadba" leaning minaret part of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul’s Old City, during the placing of the corner stone ceremony. [Zaid al-Obeidi/AFP]

The Iraqi Directorate of Mine Action (DMA) on Tuesday (October 8th) announced it has completed its mine-clearing work in parts of western Ninawa province.

This is part of an integrated action plan the directorate is implementing, with the assistance of the Iraqi army and international organisations, DMA director general Khalid Rashad told Diyaruna.

"We have completed the de-mining of areas of western Ninawa, including al-Jazeera (Upper Euphrates) and the al-Qahtaniya and al-Adnaniya complexes in Sinjar district," he said.

"The target areas have been fully secured and handed over to the local administrations," he added.

Efforts to clear mines from other areas of Ninawa province reclaimed from the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) are ongoing, he said.

"We are working according to an integrated plan," Rashad said. "We have completed accurate and comprehensive surveys of all contaminated land, and mine clearance and disposal are being carried out on a large scale."

"Our work proceeds with great co-ordination and co-operation with the Iraqi army's military engineering teams and international mine action organisations," he added.

Restoring heritage sites

In September, mine-clearing work was successfully concluded at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul's Old City, Rashad said.

"We have removed improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosive ordnances planted by terrorists in the vicinity and centre of the mosque," he said.

"We also have carried out quality checks on-site to give greater confidence that the mosque has been completely cleared and is now an explosive-free area," he added.

The de-mining of al-Nuri Mosque was the first stage of an internationally-backed government plan to rebuild the historic mosque and its leaning "hunchback" minaret (al-hadba), which were heavily damaged by ISIS.

Heritage and archaeological sites have special importance in the de-mining plans, Rashad stressed.

"We handle these sites with caution and great precision when removing explosives from them to preserve the old monuments and save what remains of them after the destruction caused by the terrorists," he said.

Mine-removal work in these areas adheres to the requirements of UNESCO, he said, which are related to the need to preserve human heritage.

"We strive to make significant progress in de-mining efforts to provide a safe life for citizens and to meet the aspirations of the international community, which supports and follows our actions," he said.

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