Thursday, April 2, 2015

They Were the Enemy

Times reporter Rod Norland is in Tikrit, roaming the streets under escort, confirming that most of the city has fallen to Iraqi forces. Militiamen he interviewed said that last major fight was late Wednesday at Saddam Hussein's old palace. Many fighters for the Islamic State seem to have escaped, or maybe there weren't ever as many of them as feared. They did leave behind lots of bombs; above is what CNN says is a suicide bulldozer, packed with barrel bombs.

Here's a surreal detail from Norland:
Muen al-Khadimy, one of the popular mobilization’s top leaders and a senior official in the Badr Organization, toured Tikrit on Thursday with an odd entourage of fighters and supply vehicles, including a pickup truck loaded entirely with tubs of date pastries and dozens of artists’ easels.
The Popular Mobilization Forces is what Iraqis call the Shiite militias raised to fight the Islamic State. I was also struck by this statement:
There were no Islamic State prisoners at all taken in the recent fight, said Mr. Khadimy, the senior Badr official. “To be honest, everywhere we captured them we killed them because they were the enemy,” he said. Then, perhaps realizing how that sounded, he explained that any ISIS fighters who were about to be captured were assumed to be suicide bombers, so they were killed as a precaution.
The spread of suicide bombing as a tactic has had many bad effects, and now we can add that it is a good reason to shoot anyone trying to surrender.

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