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Zurück aus Mossul

bernard-henri-levyI have just returned from Mosul, where the coalition battle to retake this northern Iraqi city and its environs from ISIS has been under way since October. With a television crew, I passed through several neighborhoods on the eastern side of the city, reaching Al-Zohur, one of the front lines along which elite Iraqi units are preparing to move on to the Tigris. Here are some impressions. (…)

To be sure, the neighborhoods we visited are in a chilling state of desolation. We wind through heaps of rubbish and walls of rubble, through streets in which all the cars are burned-out hulks, to a ruined warehouse where soldiers are passing out packs of food to a small crowd that appears to be a hair’s breadth away from rioting.

But most of the destruction has been caused by Daesh, as ISIS is known in Arabic, not the coalition, whose precision strikes and strict rules of engagement are the exact opposite of the scorched-earth strategy being applied in Syria. (…)

Yet ISIS hangs on. Is it because it concentrated its most seasoned personnel in Mosul proper? Is it because the remaining fighters have their backs to the wall and battle here with furious desperation? Or is it that the coalition—with the cold weather setting in, with the rain and low, cloudy skies interfering with airstrikes—is getting weary?

Whatever the explanation, I return home with a deep sense of unease. Between Al-Zohur and Al-Qadisiyyah, a handful of fanatics manages to hold off an Iraqi counterterrorism unit. A little to the west, in Mishraq, a single sniper holed up alone in a mosque stalls the coalition’s advance. One senses that the battle for Mosul, which began with a flourish, could bog down.“ (Bernard-Henri-Lévy: „Inside the Battle for Mosul. Human bombs pop up at any moment, terrorizing civilians and coalition soldiers, like evil genies“)

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