Thursday, April 12, 2007

Perspective: Mosul under siege

A U.S. helicopter flies over Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city.

"If you go in the streets by yourself, you'll be dead in 15 minutes," says Khasro Goran, the deputy governor of Mosul, the second largest Iraqi city. An able, confident man, he speaks from experience, having survived more assassination attempts than almost any political leader in Iraq. The one-hour car journey to Goran's office from the Kurdish capital, Arbil, underlines the dangers. He has sent guards, many of them his relatives, to pick me up from my hotel. They travel in slightly battered civilian cars, chosen to blend in with the rest of the traffic, wear civilian jackets and T-shirts, and keep their weapons concealed.

We drive at great speed across the Greater Zaab river, swollen with flood water, into the province of Nineveh, of which the ancient city of Mosul is the capital. The majority of its 1.8 million people are Sunni Arabs and one third are Kurds, along with 25,000 Christians. Arabs and Kurds have been fighting for control of the city for four years. Every day brings its harvest of dead. "Five Kurds were killed here yesterday," says one of the guards dolefully.

Read the rest at the Independent