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Iraqi Families: Victims of Separation and ISIS Brutality - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Mosul- Ihsan Ismail, 18, fled his village of Abu Jarbua east of Mosul an hour before his parents and little sister Nurhan were able to leave.

He was taken to a camp at Khazir but his family was at another camp.

In nearly all of the camps set up to house the displaced, residents are forbidden from leaving and in some cases have had their mobile phones and identity cards confiscated.

“It’s been a month like this… I miss them very much,” Ismail said. “All I’m asking for is to rejoin them. What’s the difference? … A camp is a camp.”

Human Rights Watch has raised concerns about the restrictions being put on those forced from their homes, known as Internally Displaced Persons, or IDPs.

As a result of the restrictions, Ismail has since only been able to speak to his family twice.

“In the camps under Iraqi federal control, IDPs have no free movement at all, unless authorities decide to transfer them or send them back home,” said Belkis Wille, HRW’s senior Iraq researcher.

The situation is almost the same in camps controlled by Kurdish forces, with a few exceptions, like in the Debaga camp south of Mosul where the displaced are allowed to go to the neighboring village if they leave behind a piece of identification, she said.

Other internally displaced people also speak of their suffering.

Fawaz Khaled, a 42-year-old father of nine, said he and his two brothers also fled Abu Jarbua when Kurdish forces moved in to drive out ISIS jihadists.

After arriving at a peshmerga checkpoint they were taken to Khazir and told their families would join them. They were instead taken to another camp, at Qimawa.

“We are in this situation since October 28 and nobody is listening to us,” Khaled said, sipping tea in a tent at Khazir.

When asked by Agence France Presse, security officials said the measures are needed to ensure the jihadists do not infiltrate the camps that have sprung up around Mosul to house the displaced.

Shaima Ismail has not seen her two oldest boys since she also fled Abu Jarbua with her four children.

When they arrived at the peshmerga checkpoint, Mahmud, 16, and three-year-old Amani were allowed to stay with her in Khazir.

But Ahmad, 21, and Mohammed, 20, were taken to the Qimawa camp.

“I have begged them to bring me to my children, or to let them come here, but nobody will give me an answer,” she said.

Her boys call just once a week, afraid that camp officials will discover their mobile phone.

“They tell me they are doing OK and then hang up,” she said. “The worry is eating away at me.”

Abdel Razzaq Jalal paused, visibly traumatized, as he told how ISIS militants tortured him in a Mosul prison to force him to say he was a spy. “I never confessed. I knew the punishment would be death,” he said.

The ultra-hardline group arrested the 39-year-old in his village near Mosul earlier this year, accusing him of spying for Kurdish forces.

After six nights and seven days of beatings, abuse and death threats, he says the militants let him go, after an ISIS judge ruled there was not enough evidence to sentence him.

Jalal was lucky to escape with his life. ISIS has executed scores of people it accused of spying in Mosul in recent weeks alone, as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces push further into its city stronghold.

He knew it could have been worse. The fate of several fellow villagers from Fadiliya, a few kilometers northeast of Mosul, and of many others arrested elsewhere during ISIS’ more than two-year rule, remains unknown.

While the physical scars faded – Jalal showed months-old pictures on his phone of bruises and cuts all over his body – the ordeal remains etched in his memory.

“They hung me upside down from my feet and beat me for two hours. That was on the first night,” Jalal said.

“They used cables, wooden sticks, and one of them – there were three or four – pistol-whipped me repeatedly on my head.”

The militants, all from Mosul’s surrounding areas, tried to make him confess to spying for Kurdish peshmerga forces who had been fighting against ISIS, he said.

When he refused, they stepped up the abuse and threats.

“The second day, they lay me flat on my stomach with my hands tied behind my back. One man stood on my legs, another on my head, and they began raising my arms. I thought my chest was going to break.”

Before he was tried, the militants put him into an orange jumpsuit – the clothing in which ISIS often kills its victims – and told him he would be sentenced to death by decapitation.

Two of his more than 40 cell mates were killed that way, he said, after they confessed under duress to directing air strikes against ISIS militants. Reuters was not able to independently verify his account.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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