Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Normality Returns to Mosul

Residents breathe sigh of relief as security forces regain control of city rocked by insurgent violence.
By Hussein Ali

With local security forces now patrolling the city centre, Mosul residents say violence has ebbed.


The US began handing over security duties to Iraqi forces more than a month ago and now local police, army and Iraqi National Guardsmen can be seen patrolling the northwestern city.


"The Iraqi police, in cooperation with National Guard forces, are determined to impose security on the city,” said police officer Waleed Hussein, 33.


Iraqi security forces lost control of Mosul in November 2004 under a sustained insurgent offensive, and have only recently retaken the city.


However, Mosul is still seen as a volatile area and there are periodic episodes of violence - such as on May 5, when a car bomb exploded near a police patrol, killing four officers and wounding several others.


But furniture seller Shawkee Ommar, 34, told IWPR that he can now stay out until 9 pm, unlike before when insurgents were controlling the city and he had to be home by 4 pm for safety reasons.


“Since the Iraqi forces came into the city, it has become quiet and we have led a normal life,” he said. “There are explosions now and then, but right now we are living in peace compared with the past.”


Ziyad Mohsin, an electricity directorate employee, 30, said the situation has been relatively calm since Iraqi forces restored security.


“There are some figures outside the city trying to create problems within, but God willing, the security forces will cleanse the area of those people,” he said.


Mosul residents say although the insurgency has not been completely eradicated, the current situation is much better than it was.


Lawyer Tofiq Muhsin, 30, said that previously, some residents were unable to leave their home for days because of the chaos in the city.


He added that some citizens had aided the insurgents with goods and moral support, believing that they would defeat the Americans and establish an Islamic regime in Iraq.


As a method of intimidation, insurgents would also call residents to witness the results of their work.


“I saw a nasty scene of a beheaded corpse shown in public," Muhsin said.


Taxi driver Zaid Abood, 33, said that after the Iraqi security forces disappeared, the only group left protecting the city was the Kurdish militia or peshmerga, who were patrolling the eastern half of the city where many Kurds live.


Abood added that insurgents had financed their operation through ransoms that they received from kidnappings. "The problem in Mosul was people keeping silent and failing to help the state by informing the authorities of extremist activities," he said.


Sayfaddin Mustafa, 28, said the areas of Hamam al-Aleel and Gayara were the most dangerous, as insurgents had dominated there and launched many attacks on the police, National Guard and peshmerga.


“In those areas, the people who did not carry out murders and kidnappings provided material and moral support for [the insurgents],” he said.


“But recently, operations have decreased in those areas as the security forces regain control."


Hussein Ali is an IWPR trainee in Iraq.