The Iraq conflict is turning increasingly sectarian. The Sunni extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continues to tighten its grip on cities north of Baghdad.
Mainly Shi-ite residents in the capital have responded to a call for volunteers by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, an influential Shi’ite leader. They are ready to defend their cities if ISIL’s offensive heads south.
Ali Zamil, a Baghdad resident from Sadr city, explained: “We are ready to go and fight in Mosul, Ramadi, Tikrit, Diyali and Samarrul – in any province the Sayyid orders, even in Baghdad. People are ready, including Sunnis, Shi-ites, Kurds and Christians. All are ready to obey the orders of (Shi’ite leader) Sayyid Moqtada al-Sadr.
According to the UN refugee agency, 300,000 people have been displaced in the last week of fighting.
Many fled fighting in Mosul and have end up in Kalak, along the road to Eirbil.
Aida Matar Jibal, a displaced person from Mosul said: “My house was bombed by planes from above and from ISIS (ISIL) on the ground. I have lost everything. My house is destroyed. Money, all is gone.”
When Mosul fell to ISIL, many displaced people moved to a makeshift camp in Kalak.
Fadhil Ali Shaher, who fled from Mosul said: “I don’t think we can return. Iraq is destroyed.”