Regaining Qayyarah a Major Step Towards Defeating Extremists
Since it was liberated by Iraqi forces last month, Qayyarah has come to be seen as the key to freeing surrounding areas from the grip of the extremist Islamic State group, known as IS.
For more than two years, the town in northern Iraqi province of Ninawa was home to the IS treasury. But today the organization’s black banners and bearded fighters are nowhere to be seen.
"The liberation of Qayyarah brought us closer to our bigger goal of liberating not just Mosul, but also the Ninawa province from the grip of IS group,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on 25 August.
Mosul is the extremists’ last stronghold in the region, some 60 kilometres to the north.
"For us, Qayyarah is the key for entering Mosul, as it was the strongest defensive line for IS fighters in the southern part of the province,” Major General Saleh al-Jibouri, mayor of Qayyarah, told NIQASH. The city’s air field would be crucial to future operations, he said.
Perhaps even more importantly, the IS group has also lost a major source of income.
"Economically, Qayyarah was an inexhaustible treasure,” al-Jibouri said. “Around 100 tankers of crude oil are transported from its fields everyday, bringing an income of about US$1 million per month,"al-Jibouri said.
Local officials, politicians and security leaders in the Ninawa province have said they consider the liberation of Qayyarah exemplary because it preserved the lives of civilians. Losses are estimated at just five deaths and 10 wounded. What’s more, the operation was carried out without the participation of the Shiite popular factions accused of committing abuses against the local population. Both Sunnis and Kurds strongly oppose their participation in the upcoming Mosul operations.