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MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) – Iraqi soldiers kicked in the gate of a home in eastern Mosul and emerged moments later with two young men whose hands they bound with plastic ties and dragged off toward black Humvees.
The men, at least one suspected of belonging to Islamic State, denied ties to the militants who had been pushed out of the neighborhood a few days earlier. They were pale with fear as they knelt on the ground.
Neighbors - Nothing - Accusations - Men - Brothers
Neighbors gathered around, most staring intently but saying nothing. One reaffirmed the accusations and another called one of the men’s brothers “a dog and the son of a dog”. The soldiers loaded the suspects into their vehicles and drove off.
Moments earlier and just a few doors down, a middle-aged widower with a wrinkled face had pleaded with the soldiers’ commander to avenge Islamic State’s alleged murder of his brother, wife and son.
Disbelievers - Islamic - State - Execution - Order
“Save us from them, save us from these disbelievers!” he shrieked, waving an Islamic State execution order. The black-clad general listened calmly before embracing the man, who began to weep on his shoulder.
These types of episodes are playing out regularly in the increasing number of areas in eastern Mosul where Iraqi forces have pushed out Islamic State in a three-month, U.S.-backed offensive to retake the militants’ largest urban stronghold.
Residents - Mix - Emotions - Advance - Pace
For ordinary residents, a mix of emotions often accompanies the advance, which has picked up pace since the start of the year.
There is often initial relief at the clashes moving past their doorsteps and gratitude to the Iraqi soldiers, whom they ply with sweetened tea and kisses.
Trauma - Years - Jihadists - Repressive - Rule
The trauma accumulated over 2-1/2 years of the jihadists’ repressive rule also often pours out unprompted – loved ones brutally murdered, homes looted and destroyed, livelihoods decimated, dreams extinguished.
Some people are unafraid to air their grievances or finger their transgressors, but...
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