ISIS Rule In Mosul: Few Come And Go As Extremists Dig In : Parallels The Islamic State remains in full control a year after capturing the city. Relatively few ISIS fighters are visible, but they have imposed strict rules on all aspects of life.
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ISIS Rule In Mosul: Few Come And Go As Extremists Dig In

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ISIS Rule In Mosul: Few Come And Go As Extremists Dig In

ISIS Rule In Mosul: Few Come And Go As Extremists Dig In

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And it was a year ago this week that the world was shocked as ISIS militants took over one of Iraq's major cities - Mosul. Not long after that, the militants claimed to have established an Islamic state across the region. Countries in the West and the Middle East vowed to defeat ISIS, but, today, it still controls many areas of Iraq and Syria, including Mosul. That makes it hard to get news from there with few able to enter or leave the city. NPR's Alice Fordham was able to reach some people who described life under ISIS as a grim routine.

ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: Northern Iraq is dotted with camps full of people who fled Mosul a year ago never thinking they'd still be here today.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHILDREN PLAYING)

FORDHAM: In this camp near the city of Erbil, children play around a shipping container. I sit with Abu Haajir, who can't believe it's been so long.

ABU HAAJIR: (Through interpreter) We just think that it's one week, and we will come back.

FORDHAM: Abu Haajir's afraid to use his full name like others in this story. He's heard ISIS blew up his house and took his car because he used to be a policeman. He can't go back. Few displaced people can, and few people are allowed out, so it's not easy to find out what's happening in Mosul aside from ISIS propaganda that depicts a city willingly living under their rule.

(SOUNDBITE OF STIRRING TEA)

FORDHAM: But I have tea with one man in a village north of Mosul who left recently. The militants had a problem with him when they took over.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Through interpreter) I was employers in one of the security.

FORDHAM: He was a security employee but a low level one. ISIS granted him amnesty. He was allowed to repent, swear to be a good Muslim and was supposed to give up his weapon, but he hung onto it because he thought the government would be back soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Through interpreter) When the government come back, they will ask me where is your weapon?

FORDHAM: But an old colleague informed on him for keeping the gun. ISIS jailed him for a month before letting him go, but life was miserable. In school, his 12-year-old daughter was learning that good girls marry jihadis, and his 13-year-old son was told...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Through interpreter) Like, you are the future. You are the future of this religion.

FORDHAM: And encouraged to become a fighter. Once, he sent that son out to buy cigarettes on the sly. The religious police caught the boy and flocked him. Meanwhile, ISIS kept threatening the man, who had an idea to get out, though, without his family. He let his beard grow, pretended to be an ISIS fighter, and paid someone on good terms with the militants to help talk his way through a series of checkpoints. He hardly hears from his family. Telephone service in Mosul is intermittent, but one resident climbs a hill late at night to get a signal and speaks secretly.

(SOUNDBITE OF PHONE RINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Hello.

FORDHAM: I ask about services, administration. He says they're roughly what they were under the government before - just barely enough to function. Electricity from the national grid is patchy in homes but works in markets and main streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Speaking Arabic).

FORDHAM: A friend in the water ministry tells him ISIS has figured out how to keep water clean, and, yes, city employees still work and get paid by the central government. ISIS takes a cut of their salaries and levies water and garbage collection taxes. They recently bought new high-pressure street cleaners. Their police are strict about illegal U-turns.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Speaking Arabic).

FORDHAM: As well as about no smoking, women covering even their faces and a new rule that men mustn't shave. Occasionally, someone is publicly executed for things they say are crimes, such as homosexuality or doctors refusing to treat wounded fighters. Overall, what do these million and a half people in Mosul think of ISIS?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (Speaking Arabic).

FORDHAM: He thinks most people don't like the rules and are poorer now the city is isolated, but they're more afraid of a military offensive to retake the city than they are of ISIS. Resistance is limited. ISIS could be there for years. This is consistent with much of what diplomats in northern Iraq say. One did add that health provision is a particular weakness. ISIS actually does let people leave for medical treatment, as long as they hand over a car or deeds of a house as a guarantee they're coming back.

(SOUNDBITE OF SOCCER GAME)

FORDHAM: Back in the displaced people's camp as young men kill time with a soccer game, Abu Haajir will next week begin a second Ramadan in this tent.

HAAJIR: (Speaking Arabic).

FORDHAM: He says, "there'll be winter and summer, another Ramadan, and they'll die here, and ISIS still won't leave Mosul." Alice Fordham, NPR News, Northern Iraq.

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