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Islamic State Fighters fleeing Iraq leave Carnage behind causing major damage to local economies

Qayyarah's airbase was a key installation for the Iraqi air force before it was captured by IS in June 2014

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ISIS group members with their flag. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

– by Kawa Omar

As Islamic State fighters are being routed from cities and towns across Syria and Iraq, they increasingly leave behind carnage, which is causing major damage to local economies and devastating people they already have traumatized.

This week a VOA reporter visited a town that was held by IS until last week, when Iraqi forces pushed the fighters out. The oil-rich town of Qayyarah, 60 kilometers south of Mosul, was under IS rule for more than two years. IS militants made certain that Qayyarah’s infrastructure was damaged before they were defeated. Houses were partially or fully destroyed. Oil wells were set ablaze, causing major damage to the economy and the environment. At least 10 oil fields were burned down, local sources said.

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“IS targeted oil fields knowing it was people’s money,” said Hussein Jasim, a resident of Qayyarah, referring to the Iraqi economy.

The city’s military base also was wiped out, according to Iraqi military officials.

“The base is not usable now,” said Colonel Karim Radwan, an Iraqi military officer who led the offensive against IS there. “IS bombed the infrastructure of the base.”

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Qayyarah’s airbase was a key installation for the Iraqi air force before it was captured by IS in June 2014. The base also was used for several years by U.S. forces after the U.S. intervention in 2003.

Radwan said it will take a long time and a large investment to repair the airfield.

Residents said they lived under IS extortion and suffer psychologically from IS occupation.

“We paid them a lot of money,” said resident Jasim. “We either had to pay them or get slaughtered.”

Many residents say widespread destruction in the town means they will not return home anytime soon, despite IS fighters having been cleared out. Many of the residents have fled to the Kurdish region of Iraq or nearby areas under the control of the Iraqi government.

“I fled with my family as the [Iraqi] forces were liberating [Qayyarah],” said Wahid Khalaf, another resident.

He and his children walked for seven hours to reach safety, “taking many dangerous routes,” Khalaf told VOA.

Another resident who refused to be identified said thousands of families were devastated due to IS terror activities in the town. “These families have no homes or anything. They have nowhere to go,” he said, pointing to fleeing residents crammed in the back of a truck.

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IS’s intention is to inflict lasting suffering after it is pushed from towns, analysts say.

“This is exactly what IS wants,” said Hamid Majeed, an Iraqi political analyst. “They want to show people that their lives would be even more miserable after they [IS] no longer control their territories.” (VOA)

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Man Accused in Christchurch Mosque Shootings Charged with Terrorism

The single charge filed Tuesday against Australian Brenton Tarrant is the first of its kind

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Man, Christchurch, Mosque, Terrorism
Brenton Tarrant, charged for murder in relation to the mosque attacks, is lead into the dock for his appearance in the Christchurch District Court, New Zealand, March 16, 2019. (Suspect's face blurred at source) VOA

Authorities in New Zealand have charged the self-avowed white supremacist who killed 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques back in March with terrorism.

The single charge filed Tuesday against Australian Brenton Tarrant is the first of its kind under New Zealand’s Terrorism Suppression Act, which was passed in 2002 in the wake of the al-Qaida-led terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. the previous year. Prosecutors have also charged him with an additional count of murder over a worshipper who died in the hospital earlier this month, along with two additional counts of attempted murder, bringing that number to 40.

Up to 200 family members of the victims and survivors of the attack were informed of the new charges at a private meeting with police.

The 28-year-old Tarrant live-streamed the March 15 shootings at the al-Noor and Linwood mosques on Facebook from a head-mounted camera.

Man, Christchurch, Mosque, Terrorism
Authorities in New Zealand have charged the self-avowed white supremacist who killed 51 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques. Flickr

He is currently being held at a maximum security prison where he was ordered to undergo psychiatric tests to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial. His next court date is June 14.

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The 28-year-old Tarrant e-mailed a lengthy white nationalist manifesto to more than 30 recipients just minutes before the attacks – including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – in which he allegedly denounced Muslims and called immigrants “invaders.” (VOA)