Iraq News

Ninawa residents track down ISIS remnants

By Khalid al-Taie


A picture taken on December 16th shows an Iraqi volunteer cleaning up and salvaging debris in the Bab al-Saray area of Mosul's Old City. [Ahmad Muwafaq/AFP]

Ninawa residents have been actively involved in efforts to track down remaining pockets of "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) fighters in their province to prevent any future resurgence, local activists and officials tell Diyaruna.

They have been helping Iraqi security forces to protect their villages and towns by providing information that could lead to arrests, in person and via a grassroots social media campaign.

A spontaneous social media movement currently under way involves activists and Ninawa residents in these efforts, said Mosul activist Muhannad al-Awmari.

People are sharing information and pictures of ISIS elements, he told Diyaruna.

The effort aims at "providing as much open source information for the security and intelligence services as possible in order to assist in the hunt for escaped militants and put them behind bars", he said.

"There are more than 150 teams of young people and civil society organisations in Ninawa whose members are providing a host of services for their communities," al-Awmari said.

Other teams are committed to documenting ISIS crimes and sharing information on the group and the movements of its elements, he added.

Communication key to security

There are "strong communication channels" between province residents and security forces stationed in the area, Ninawa provincial council security committee member Binyan al-Jarba told Diyaruna.

"People have realised this is the only way to secure their areas," he said.

While ISIS was in control of the area, he said, locals risked their lives to bring information about the group's movements and gatherings to the security forces.

"In spite of the risk, local residents held on to their mobile phones and tablets and they risked traveling to locations outside their coverage areas in order to contact the security forces," he said.

Their co-operation with liberating Iraqi forces was "commendable and earned the admiration of field commanders who confirmed that without such efforts, victory would not have been achieved", al-Jarba added.

"Ninawa residents are now ready to do whatever it takes to bring terrorists to justice," he said.

'No security without participation'

The stability that currently prevails in Ninawa is due to "mutual understanding between the locals and the security forces", adviser to the governor of Ninawa province Duraid Hekmat told Diyaruna.

Local residents have been readily offering information on suspicious individuals or activities through various channels, including social media, he said.

"This effort is a manifestation of the strong awareness among the local population of their role in preserving security as a joint responsibility," he said.

There will be "no security without this participation", Hekmat added.

Residents want to keep the peace so their cities can move towards reconstruction, he said, as a group effort is required to overcome challenges resulting from the destruction wrought by ISIS.

Ninawa residents "are well aware of their duty to do everything they can to preserve the victory", said Ninawa provincial council member Khalaf al-Hadidi.

"The situation has changed compared with how it was before ISIS occupied Mosul," he told Diyaruna.

The people of Ninawa suffered bitterly under the group's control, he said, adding that they now know "they can only live under the rule of law".

Today, locals are more trusting of the security forces and will go to any effort to prevent ISIS from resurfacing, he said.

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