- Title: Displaced Sunnis brace to join fight for Mosul
- Date: 25th October 2016
- Summary: ERBIL, IRAQ (OCTOBER 24, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF STATIC CARAVANS IN THE DEBAGA REFUGEE CAMP, SOUTH OF ERBIL VARIOUS OF DISPLACED PEOPLE WALKING THROUGH THE CAMP VARIOUS OF DISPLACED PEOPLE IN THE CAMP GOING TO FIGHT ISLAMIC STATE, SEEN IN THE BACK OF A PICK-UP TRUCK (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HEAD OF THE DISPLACED FIGHTER GROUP, SHEIKH AL-MUQDAD ABDULLAH, SAYING: "We established this force; it was founded in 2007 by my father to fight al Qaeda. At this time, the men are ready to fight Daesh. This is not their first battle. Since Daesh arrived to Mosul, they have waged several battles against them. They are now heading to Mosul to continue their fight against this group." FIGHTERS IN THE BACK OF THE TRUCK (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FIGHTER WHO WAS DISPLACED FROM KHALIDIYA, ALI MOHAMMED, SAYING: "I heard on TV that they are gathering people to fight against Daesh, so I decided to sign up to take my revenge from Daesh, who killed many members of my family." FIGHTERS IN TRUCK (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) DISPLACED MAN AND FIGHTER, AMER MAHMOUD, SAYING: "We are going to liberate our friends and brother from Daesh." VARIOUS OF FIGHTERS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) DISPLACED MAN AND FIGHTER, AMER NATHEM, SAYING: "I am going to fight to kick out Daesh from our areas, and to gain control of the land." VARIOUS OF FIGHTERS HOLDING UP THE VICTORY SIGN VARIOUS OF THE PICK-UP TRUCK BOY LOOKING AT THE FIGHTERS PICK-UP TRUCK FIGHTER HOLDING UP VICTORY SIGN VARIOUS OF THE TRUCK LEAVING
- Embargoed: 9th November 2016 08:40
- Keywords: Mosul Islamic State Mosul Sunnis
- Location: ERBIL, IRAQ
- City: ERBIL, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Insurgencies
- Reuters ID: LVA00155I643R
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Hundreds of young Sunni tribesmen are fired up to join an offensive against Islamic State militants in their stronghold of Mosul.
Sitting in a truck in a camp for people displaced because of the conflict, dozens of young men - part of a force of hundreds of tribesmen - will soon head to the frontline.
There they will face an enemy which seized control of their lands around Mosul two years ago, and whose fighters they know as fearless and highly unpredictable.
They are joining a group founded by Sunni tribal leader named Sheikh Faris Abdullah, now led by his son Sheikh al-Muqdad Abdullah.
"We established this force; it was founded in 2007 by my father to fight al Qaeda. At this time, the men are ready to fight Daesh. This is not their first battle. Since Daesh arrived to Mosul, they have waged several battles against them. They are now heading to Mosul to continue their fight against this group," al-Muqdad said.
Daesh is the Arabic acronym for Islamic State, which controls large parts of neighbouring Syria and swept through northern and western Iraq in 2014.
Since then Iraq's Shi'ite-led government has tried to encourage Sunni tribesmen to join the fight against the ultra-hardline Sunni group.
But deep distrust between the country's two dominant sects, which flared into civil war after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, prevented any meaningful cooperation.
Sunnis dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein. They accuse Shi'ite leaders of marginalising them through sectarian policies, allegations Baghdad's government denies.
The scene at the Debaga camp suggests that a shared hatred for Islamic State means that - at least for now - Sunnis are ready to overcome sectarian divisions and join the government's fight against a common enemy.
The sprawling camp of mainly prefabricated houses with corrugated iron roofs lies on the outskirts of Erbil, about 75 km (45 miles) east of Mosul.
"I heard on TV that they are gathering people to fight against Daesh, so I decided to sign up to take my revenge from Daesh, who killed many members of my family," said Ali Mohammed, one of the fighters, in military fatigues.
"We are going to liberate our friends and brother from Daesh," said another fighter, Amer Mahmoud.
The loyalty of the teenagers lies mostly with Sheikh Faris Abdullah, not Iraq, a complex and combustible mix of Shi'ites, Sunnis, Kurds, Yazidis and Christians.
After Islamic State declared a caliphate, then began executing and beheading its opponents, Faris established a new Sunni fighting force.
They took on the group, hoping to capture towns and villages under its reign of terror, inspired by Faris, even after his death. An Islamic State sniper killed him during an operation in a village.
Abdullah, Faris's son, seemed optimistic about the chances of defeating Islamic State in Mosul and even creating a sense of unity that has been lacking since 2003.
He said he was encouraged by recent gains made by the Iraqi army and Kurdish fighters against the militants, which intelligence officials say have rigged bombs across Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.
The fighters say they have received basic military training from the U.S.-led coalition, including how to handle AK-47 assault rifles and identify improvised bombs.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None