By Laith Hammoudi.
This article was originally published by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, iwpr.net, and it is reproduced by Iraq Business News with permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News
“We used to care about one another. My neighbours were Shia, Sunni and Christian,” Raad Mahmud says as he recalled the life he led until recently in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
On June 10, the armed forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) completed a three-day offensive to capture this major urban centre, and Mahmud, a father of seven, knew it was time to leave. He feared his family would be at great risk purely because they are Shia Muslims.
As news of Mosul’s capture came in, he put his family in their old Opel, and drove out of the city. They left at midnight and kept going till two in the afternoon, when they judged they were well out of ISIS’s reach in the Nineveh Plains east of Mosul.
On June 11, the International Organisation for Migration said its teams on the ground estimated that 500,000 people had fled their homes in Mosul.
Mahmud is grateful for the kindness shown by the people in the Nineveh Plains, an area that has traditionally been home to many of Iraq's Christians.
“They showed great sympathy and gave us basic essentially like beds and blankets,” he told IWPR.
Mahmud is pessimistic about the future, and doubts he will be able to return home any time soon.
“It’s very dangerous now in Mosul and I expect that this will last for months before I can return home,” he said.