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President of Kurdistan Meets Arab Tribes
By Jawdat Ahmed
16 Mar 2015

March 15, 2015
Duhuk, Iraq

( President of Kurdistan Massoud Barzani said on Sunday, that the doors are open for Arabs to fight in the ranks of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, calling the federal government to do its duty in the liberated areas. Barzani said during a meeting with Arab tribal elders attended by, “The doors are open for Arabs to join the Peshmerga ranks in their fight against terrorism, and without discrimination,” urging the federal government to do its duty and provide services in the liberated areas. Barzani added, “We should not feed grudges and hatred. Those who refused loyalty to ISIS must live freely and with dignity, while those who chose to be with ISIS, their fate will be like ISIS’ fate.” “All Kurdish areas have been liberated and are now ready to contribute in the operations to liberate the rest of Iraq,” calling on everyone to cooperate in order to build a spirit of cooperation and brotherhood.

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Peshmerga Units Clear Explosives Laid...
Kirkuk, Makhmour
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
08 Feb 2015

The amount of IEDs left by the Islamic State is staggering. 'Not normal', says the mayor of Makhmour. According to Kurdish government and Peshmerga officials, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines planted by Islamic State militants are the biggest cause of casualties for Peshmerga forces. ISIS has adopted the tactic of heavily seeding all of the territory it withdraws from with the deadly devices, with the intent of slowing down Peshmerga advances. Some IEDs are also intentionally left in fields and homes to target civilians according to Kurdish officials. We go to the frontlines with a Peshmerga engineer team specialized in dismantling the devices, and speak to a farmer who is affected by Islamic State IEDs. The mayor of the city of Makhmour, whose community is still dealing with getting rid of massive amounts of IEDs ISIS left in August, also weighs in on the subject.

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Aftermath of Raqqa Bombings by Syrian...
By TTM Contributor 20
01 Dec 2014

27 November 2014 Destruction from recent airstrikes in Raqqa by Syrian Regime warplanes.

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Raqqa Citizens Criticize IS
By TTM Contributor 23
07 Oct 2014

October 7, 2014
Raqqa, Syria

Citizens of Raqqa speak out against ISIS who have taken total control over the Syrian city. Since May 2013 ISIS have been increasing their control, enforcing sharia law and publicly executing those they deem to be Alawites or supporters of the Syrian regime. Beginning in September 2014, the United States and partner nations conducted air strikes against IS in areas of their control, including Raqqa.

Sound Bite 1:

(00:00) Interviewer: As a child, what has changed in your life now that ISIS are here? (00:03). (00:03) Child: “I feel more afraid now because of the way they look and the way they dress, and their actions in the city have become terrifying.” (00:07) (00:07) Interviewer: Do they prevent you from going to school? (00:10) (00:11) Child: “Since they day ISIS took over Raqqa, they took our childhood from us. They don't allow us to go to school anymore.” (00:16) (00:16) Interviewer: Do you think they're right, and that they truly are The Islamic State who represent Islam? (00:19) Child: “ISIS is not Islam. They execute the citizens in the roads [in front of our eyes], and our parents tell us they behead and whip the people for no reason, and whoever says no to them is executed.” (00:34)

Sound Bite 2:

00:00) Interviewer: What has changes since ISIS has taken over Raqqa?(00:03)
(00:03) Man: “Everything has changed in the city of Raqqa since ISIS has taken over and we have been living in a state of fear.” (00:09) (00:10) Interviewer: Is there more security in the streets? (00:12) (00:12) Man: “In the past when the area was under the protection of the Free Syrian Army there was safety but now there is absolutely no safety because of the increased danger from ISIS.” (00:18) (00:19) Interviewer: Did the fighting intensify or decrease? (00:20) Man: “The fighting has decreased because there is no official army.” (00:27) Interviewer: Is there a curfew? (00:28) (00:29) Man: Yes, when ISIS feels threatened they announce the curfews through the mosques.” (00:35) (00:36) Interviewer: Did the security investigations increase? Did inspection increase? (00:40) (00:40) Man: “At the Internet cafes they search the mobiles and they smell fingers looking for smokers.” (00:48) (00:48) Interviewer: In regards to women what has changed, in regards to the change in their freedom to move around, dress code and conduct? (00:52) (00:53) Man: “They are allowed to move around but they have to be wearing the correct dress that the organization has imposed and any violation leads to the arrest of our women by the Al Khansa Battalion.” (01:05) (01:06) Interviewer: In regards to men what has changed, in regards to the change in their freedom to move around, dress code and conduct? (01:09) (01:10) Man: “What has changed is that the organization has imposed that men must have long hair, and abstain from using gel.” (01:20) (01:19) Interviewer: Do you believe in an Islamic state? (01:21) (01:21) Man: “I do not believe in an Islamic state but yes I do I do believe in an Islamic state but not in the gangs, not in the ISIS gangs.” (01:31) (01:31) Interviewer: Do you think ISIS can succeed in creating and Islamic state? (01:34) (01:35) Man: “They cannot succeed in an Islamic state.” (01:39) (01:40) Interviewer: We hear that there are executions and punishments that take place in the streets. Is that correct? (01:43) (01:44) Man: “Yes they do field executions in front of our eyes and ISIS says that these people are apostates or Alawites. In reality these people are either our sons, Free Syrian Army soldiers, or journalists. (01:57) (01:58) Interviewer: are you afraid or do you feel safe? (02:02) (02:03) Man: “No I am afraid of the Islamic state.” (02:06) (02:07) Interviewer: Do you want the United States or any other country to help in fighting and removing ISIS? (02:11) (02:12) Man: “We want America to strike ISIS but we want the strikes to stay away from civilians.” (02:18)

Sound Bite 3:

(00:00) Interviewer: What has changed in Raqqa since ISIS took over the city? (00:04) (00:04) Woman: “Life has changed in general ever since ISIS took over the city. Mainly when it comes to the way we dress and the ban on tobacco.” (00:13) (00:14) Interviewer: Is there more security in the streets now? Are there less fights now with the patrols in the city? Are they censoring entertainment? (00:23). (00:24) Woman: “Yes, ISIS is patrolling all over the city to ensure the application of laws they imposed on us. We see lots of violations including the searching of men, while the Al-Khansa' brigade searches us. And when we ask them why they are searching us, they reply that it is their policy.” (00:47) (00:48) Interviewer: For women, what have changed in their lives? The freedom to wander around and the freedom to choose their own outfits? (00:52) (00:53) Woman: “As you can see, we can't leave the house without wearing the outfit that ISIS has imposed. Also, when we leave the house, we should have a Mahram with us, either our brother, father, son or husband. If we don't obey, we will be lashed.” (01:11) 01:12) Interviewer: What about the men? What has changed in their lives? The freedom to wandering around and the freedom to choose their outfits? (01:18).
(01:19) Woman: “They have more freedom than us, but it doesn't mean they are not in danger; they might be searched by ISIS for security reasons.” (01:28) 01:29) Interviewer: Do you believe in the Islamic State? (01:30).
(01:31) Woman: “I believe in an Islamic State, because in an Islamic State, we all live with pride. But I don't believe in IS (The Islamic State of ISIS) because they are far from being an Islamic State.” (01:40) (01:41) Interviewer: Do you think that ISIS can achieve an Islamic State? (01:45) (01:45) Woman: “In my opinion, ISIS is far from achieving an Islamic State, because we are sure that they are criminals not Muslims.” (01:52) (01:53) Interviewer: We hear that they are punishing and executing people in the streets, is this true? (01:57). (01:58) Woman: “There are too many similar cases.” (02:00) (02:01) Interviewer: Are you afraid? Or you feel safe here? (02:04). (02:04) Woman: “Of course I am afraid, because ISIS has already terrified us.” (02:14). (02:14) Interviewer: Do you want the US to help in eliminating ISIS? (02:17). (02:17) Woman: “We want the end of ISIS, but at the same time, we don't want to get hurt.” (end)

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In exile: Iraqi women seek refuge
Bardarash, Dohuk, Rovia, Diyarbakir
By Arianna Pagani
24 Sep 2014

During the days of terror on Mount Sinjar, about 200 women were kidnapped by the militias of the Islamic State to be converted to Islam and sold in the occupied cities of Mosul and Tal Afar. This barbarism is not new to the chronicles of war.

The Islamic State's attack on Mount Sinjar led to the exodus of about 500,000 people, mostly from the Christian, Yazidi and Shabak minorities. These refugees, currently under the protection of the Kurdish militias, are living in the streets, under bridges or in abandoned places in Erbil and surrounding villages. Many of those who manage to escape the conflict have suffered losses in their family that effect them not only economically, but mentally and emotionally. Depression and anxiety in addition to insecurity are a constant challenge.

The UNHCR anticipated there to be over 900,000 internally displaced people in Iraq by the end of 2014. With the rise of ISIS, that number has been more than tripled, with 2.9 million displaced according to International Displacement Monitoring Center. The situation of internally displaced women, not only in Iraq but in conflict zones around the world, is especially precarious as the breakdown in social structures is a risk factor for gender-based violence. In their planning document for 2014, the UNHCR says it is ramping up its efforts to protect refugee and internally displaced women. However, agencies like the UNHCR as well as local associations can only care for and provide aid to so many displaced people, leaving others to fend for themselves.

The condition of the women and children displaced in Iraq is tragic: not only from a material point of view, but also from a psychological and ethical perspective. While talking with them, the elderly were crying because they don't see a future for their land, culture or traditions and were continuously asking, "What did we do wrong to deserve to be killed?" The women were mostly passive, trapped between emotions, tears, the inability to react, “deafened by pain and suffering.” They seemed to understand that as time passes by, the hope of returning to a normal and fair life fades away.

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Kobane Refugees in Risky Game of Back...
Suruc, Kobane
By Ulrik Pedersen
24 Sep 2014

September 24-26, 2014
Suruc, Turkey; Kobane, Syria

Syrian-Kurdish refugees from the border town of Kobane are continue to shuffle to and from Turkey, returning to Kobane in moments of calm, and fleeing again as the Islamic State (IS) group pushes closer to the center of town. Turkish authorities have at times sealed the border, leading to clashes between refugees and Turkish police.

According to Turkish authorities, the number of refugees seeking shelter in Turkey from the Islamic State group's advance across northeastern Syria has hit 140,000.The head of Turkey's AFAD disaster management agency, Fuat Oktay, said the figure is the result of Syrians escaping the area near the Syrian border town of Kobane, where fighting has raged between IS and Kurdish fighters since September 18.

Clashes broke out between refugees and Turkish forces on September 26, as refugees destroyed the border fence from inside Turkey to help their fellow Syrians escape. Turkish security forces replied with tear gas, paint pellets, and water cannons.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Islamic State group has taken control of 64 villages in northeastern Syria. It says that the fate of 800 Kurds from these villages is unknown, adding that the Islamic State group executed 11 civilians, including two boys.

Western forces bombed IS troops outside Kobane, but without proper weapons, the Kurds might not be able to hold the city much longer.

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FSA Offensive Against IS near Aleppo
By Abdu al-Fadel
21 Sep 2014

September 21, 2014
al-Sabit, Aleppo Province, Syria

After the battles between ISIS and the FSA, control of rural areas north of Aleppo went to ISIS, from (al-Raei) town to (Azaaz). ISIS now controls an area that runs from (al-Raei) south to the town of (Marei) and the villages of (Souran) and (Ehtemilat), ISIS now holds a straight line from (al-Bab) city in eastern Aleppo to the town of (Marea). where a number of opposition armed factions are now participating in the ongoing battle. to the east, fighters from the (Nour al-Din al-Zinki) movement in (Ehtimilat) and (Souran) are fighting along side fighters from the (Fajr al-Horeya) brigade, and the (Jaish al-Mojahideen), all affiliated to the FSA and the fighters of the (Islamic Front).
On the other hand lines are being formed and held in the town of (Raii) in northern rural Aleppo, where fighters from the (Islamic Front) have the biggest presence with fighters from (al-Nusra) brigade.
up till this moment the lines mentioned above are holding and no advances from any side were recorded. only mutual artillery fire is an indication to an active front.


Speaker: “Allahu Akbar. We are now in the northern area. The Free Syrian army is engaged in freeing the town of Al Sabit. We are standing next to the mosque of Al Sabit, fighting against Al-Baghdadi’s troops. With us now is the leader of this offensive. Abu Ali, tell us about this battle.”

Abu Ali: “Thanks be to God, who helped us come into this town, and we were thankfully able to free it from those dogs. Hopefully we’ll advance even further up into the town’s gate.”

Speaker: “These people are part of a gathering of the inhabitants of Al Sabit to free the town. Here with us is Abu Mahmoud. Abu Mahmoud, what comments do you have?”

Abu Mahmoud: “I’m not available for comment now.”

Speaker: “Hamid, what do you want to say about the current situation?”

Hamid: “When the bullets started to fire at my car with Abu Youssef inside, I tried to open the door, but they shut it and kept it closed with all of us inside.”

Speaker: “So we’re actually talking to Hamid, the living martyr. And now we’re with another fighter, Abu Youssef. Earlier we tried talking to him but he was called away. Now what do you have to say?”

Abu Youssef: “Whoever God blesses with long life will not be harmed no matter what. Hopefully God will protect us all. Allahu Akbar.”

Speaker: Now I’m crouching down to show the car that we escaped out of. No one can believe anyone came out of it alive, but we all did by the grace of God. Here is the car. Its tires were shot and the whole left side is full of bullet holes. Thanks be to God that we came out of it in safety. Here are more fighters working to free the town. Allahu Akbar.

Commander giving orders to soldiers: “We’re going to advance in groups of three. I’ll go first and no one ask any questions. Cover me. I’ll go and hide behind that tank. Follow me. Now go and hide next to those tires.

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Iraq: Qaraqosh's Christians in Limbo
By Arianna Pagani
24 Jun 2014

After bombings in Qaraqosh, the Iraqi government has decided to evacuate the entire town. About 5,000 families have taken refuge in the city of Erbil, where schools and sports centers have been made available by local volunteers and aid organizations.

A major city for Christians in Iraq, Qaraqosh fell to ISIS shortly after the latter's conquest of Mosul. Residents of Qaraqosh were reportedly terrorized by ISIS, who took Sharia law into their own hands, lashing one man for selling cigarettes, and killing several women found guilty of adultery. The city later suffered heavy bombardment during fighting between ISIS fighters and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.