Ex-Saddam Baathists Unite in Ninevah Campaign

By Omar al-Jaffal for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Iraqi government has yet to tell its side of the story after the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) occupied the province of Ninevah on June 10, leaving the door open for interpretations and rumors. The central government in Baghdad shut down social media websites to prevent rumors about the fall of cities and the defeat of the army at the hands of ISIS from spreading.

At this point, what is certain is that ISIS did not enter Ninevah alone, but was accompanied by other armed factions that have been trying for a while to destabilize the security situation in Iraq.

A prominent member of the Arab Socialist Baath Party, whose rule was overturned in Iraq upon the US occupation of Baghdad in 2003, told Al-Monitor that “14 factions have joined efforts to enter Ninevah.”

The party member, who was an officer in the army of the late leader Saddam Hussein, said on condition of anonymity, “The Baath Party was compelled to be involved in this battle since the successive Iraqi governments have shut all doors in its face.”

The armed organizations that occupied Ninevah removed all the road blocks to prove to citizens that they are better than the Iraqi government, knowing that the latter had excessively used road blocks during its control over the province. Eyewitnesses in Ninevah recounted how ISIS tried to make the residents feel secure to gain their support for the imminent battles to be fought with the Iraqi army.

Um Ahmad, a housewife from Mosul, told Al-Monitor over the phone, “ISIS distributed flyers prohibiting smoking and imposing the veil on women. These lists will comprise more bans, everyone knows it.”

Um Ahmad, who was relying on the Iraqi and US air forces to take Mosul back after it suddenly fell under the control of militants, added, “The situation is calm. There are no clashes. We hear about bombardment, but it has yet to reach our region.”

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