With the battle for Mosul finally over, FRANCE 24’s Simona Foltyn follows Iraq’s counter-terrorism units as they set out on the delicate task of rooting out jihadist supporters in the war-torn city.
It’s been a week since Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory in the grueling nine-month campaign to drive the Islamic State group out of Mosul. The Iraqi army has since taken full control of the northern city, but officials fear many jihadist fighters have managed to hide in tunnels or blend in with the civilian population fleeing the battle, posing a long-lasting security threat. Sleeper cells have already carried out suicide attacks in Mosul’s eastern half, which was declared liberated back in January.
Our correspondent joined the Iraqi counter-terrorism forces as they scoured a neighbourhood of Mosul known to have provided widespread support to the IS group. Many families there had sons who fought and died with the jihadists and are reluctant to share information with the authorities. With the rifts in Iraq’s fractured society running deep, the special forces must tread carefully to avoid alienating the population and bringing stigma to families of IS group fighters.