Although the declaration of Mosul’s liberation in 2017 should herald the end of the war on Isis in Iraq, remnants of the terrorist organisation can still be seen in Nineveh, Kirkuk, Diyala, Saladdin and Al-Anbar provinces.
The terrorist organisation is still active in several areas in Nineveh, according to the province’s residents. Isis militants are spread throughout the Kora Ghough mountain range in Makhmour, south western Nineveh, and are charting the same course of their fallen state which they declared in 2014.
Farmers in 27 villages are suffering from Isis militants’ threats to their harvests, as well as from the Jizyah (per capita yearly tax historically levied on non-Muslims) that they are demanding from the residents of Howaija, Makhmour and other remote villages along the Syrian border.
“Isis militants stormed into the provinces’ villages and demanded that farmers pay the Jiziah, otherwise they would set fire to their harvests and yields. As a result, the farmers had to seek protection and assistance from the Peshmerga,” said Helkourd Khedr, the Kurdish Peshmerga leading figure.
Khedr revealed, “Isis is acting to expand its powers, day after day, pushing into areas with a security vacuum. Until recently, they were storming only the 20 Kurdish villages in the area, but now they have started assaulting Arab villages in Karraj, Baqert and Qarkoug and demanding Jiziyah on their harvests: 15 percent for farmers, and 40 percent for truck drivers, threatening to set fire to all their yields of wheat and barley if they don’t pay up.”
Khedr went on to say that “the Iraqi forces in that area can neither protect themselves nor fend off Isis attacks. Therefore, these terrorist groups’ attacks are increasing day by day,” indicating that “the situation requires a joint military operation incorporating the Peshmerga and the Iraqi forces to completely eradicate Isis elements. But no action seems to be made to this effect. We are well aware of the threats and the fear gripping the areas’ residents to this effect.”
Khedr is of the view that “the solution lies in the coordination between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army so that the Peshmerga troops can return to these areas to eliminate Isis”.
Following incidents on October 16th, 2017, Peshmerga retreated from many of the disputed areas and, to all intents and purposes, became non-existent in the region after federal troops held control of these cities.
The villages residents, according to Khedr, fear that Isis will, once again, return to seize control of their area. Some Isis elements have been known to enter the “Konda Shina” village, wandering around its lanes and spraying graffiti saying, “Isis Will Remain”, on the walls before the village residents erased it shortly afterwards.
Isis elements’ increasing movements have forced the residents of several villages to flee their homes.
Ahmed Madloul Al-Jarba, parliament member from Nineveh, in a statement to 7Dnews, said, “We have warned in a message to Prime Minister Adel Abdelmahdi of the deplorable situation, and the government responded by sending additional troops to the province.”
He said, “Isis is a criminal organisation - it has also kidnapped people and assaulted villages in Baaj province, forcing their residents to flee their home.”
Al-Jarba added, “Isis consolidated its presence in these areas due to the lack of sufficient army troops. This is why it is necessary that sufficient Iraqi troops are deployed, otherwise we may see a repetition of the 2014 scenario in Nineveh.”
However, Al-Jerba affirmed that he is not in favour of the Peshmerga’s return to these areas and that the government’s federal troops must take over the responsibility of protecting them.
Isis held control of Mosul Centre in 2014 after its desert areas, adjacent to the Syrian border, fell into the hands of its militants. Although Isis defeat was declared in 2017, several militant groups are still active in remote rural areas.
Iraqi troops declared victory over Isis in Mosul in summer 2017. Three months later, they declared liberation of the entire territory of the country from Isis.