Northern Iraq is still struggling to rebuild years after Daesh was defeated.

Bulsha:- Iraq: In Iraq, “maku” means “nothing,” and Issa Al-Zamzoum, a father of five, uses the word frequently: no electricity, no home, no rebuilding, and no employment.

The rehabilitation of his war-torn hamlet in northern Iraq has come to a halt eight years after severe battle between Daesh terrorists and the army.

Zamzoum, 42, grumbled, “There is nothing here, no electricity.” “There is no such thing as work.”
Zamzoum lives in Habash, a village 180 kilometers (110 miles) north of Baghdad, with his wife and family, in a countryside littered with dozens of bomb-blasted houses left devastated by fierce combat in 2014.

Part of their roof, which collapsed during the shelling, is still in shattered, bullet-scarred ruins.
A hen keeps an eye on her brood in one room. Another room has unclean mattresses stacked against the wall.
The structure is not even Zamzoum’s; his own home has been rendered uninhabitable.

While the Baghdad government finally declared “success” against Daesh in December 2017, the scope of the devastation was enormous.

“Reconstruction? “We don’t see it,” Zamzoum grumbled. “Since the war, nothing has happened.”
During Daesh’s siege of Amerli, a town fewer than 10 kilometers distant, Habash paid a high price.

In 2014, jihadists who had taken control of the major northern city of Mosul and adjacent areas marched south to attack Amerli, utilizing nearby communities like Habash as strongholds.

With grueling street fighting, the Iraqi army, Shiite militias, and Kurdish troops mounted a counterattack to break the siege, and Daesh fighters were pushed out.

It was not, however, the end of the misery for residents of the already hard-hit area.

Following the siege, “pro-government militias and volunteer fighters, as well as Iraqi security personnel, invaded Sunni villages and districts” near Amerli, including Habash, according to Human Rights Watch.

HRW mapped “large smoke plumes of building fires, possibly from arson attacks” in the area using satellite photography.
According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, about 20,000 people have been displaced by the fighting and require assistance in the area.
The NRC stated, “Humanitarian requirements are high.”

For many, obtaining identity papers, in addition to basic needs such as clean water and power, is a difficulty.

“Many people have been displaced between governorates and face significant travel difficulties in obtaining civil documents,” according to the NRC.
It went on to say that “others face security clearance challenges owing to alleged involvement with the Islamic State” group.
Abdelkarim Nouri, Zamzoum’s neighbor, is a Sunni Muslim, as are the majority of Habash people.

Sunnis have been viewed with suspicion in Shiite-majority Iraq, with suspicions that they were implicated in past backing for extremists.
Jihadists affiliated with Daesh adhere to a hardline interpretation of Sunni principles.

“Our lives are a disgrace,” Nouri admitted. “I don’t have a job,” she says. I have five sheep, and they are my lifeblood.”
He claimed he had sought support from his member of parliament, but that nothing had changed.

Nouri makes no mention of religion or sectarianism, which is a sensitive subject in a country where tens of thousands of people died in a deadly inter-religious strife between 2006 and 2008.

Many Sunnis believe they are still harassed and discriminated against four years after Daesh’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” in Iraq came to an end.

Sunni leaders expressed alarm in a US State Department report last year that “government-affiliated Shia (Shiite) militia continued to forcibly relocate Sunnis.”

Officials were mentioned in the paper as reporting “random arrests of Sunnis in areas north of Baghdad” and detentions for suspected Daesh ties.

Officials in Salaheddin province, where Habash is located, warn of “security risks” that are causing delays in rehabilitation – without specifically referencing Daesh jihadists.

While Habash is in government control, militants continue to operate 15 kilometers north.

Forces of the Hashed Al-Shaabi, a Shiite-led former paramilitary coalition now integrated into Iraq’s state security apparatus, stand guard on the road leading to the village of Bir Ahmed.

“The situation in Bir Ahmed is beyond our and the army’s control,” remarked a senior commander. “I can ensure you’ll get in, but I can’t guarantee you’ll get out.”

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