Men dressed as Santa Claus walking through a ruined city may seem like a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie, but thats how Christmas looks in Mosul, a former IS stronghold leveled to the ground in a US-backed liberation op.
Two Iraqis packed their bags with small but colorful gifts and took to Mosuls Old City to bring some joy to the local children, whove seen so much suffering during the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) rule and the brutal anti-terrorist campaign in the city a year and a half ago.
But, as the Santas made their way around the destroyed homes and mosques with bullet ridden walls, they had problems finding the kids they could give presents to in the desolated streets. And those youngsters that they eventually happened-upon, seemed more baffled by the unexpected act of kindness itself than by actually being handed a ball or a small doll.
Some reconstruction efforts are underway in Mosul, but this, so far, feels like a drop in the bucket seen against the enormous damage delivered to what used to be one of the major cities in northern Iraq. And the West, which invested heavily in Mosuls destruction, doesnt seem too eager to help.
The chaotic battle for Mosul, which was Islamic States de facto capital in the country, lasted from October 2016 to July 2017 and saw the city nearly reduced to rubble.
The US-led coalition, which supported Iraqi government forces from the air, had been bombing Mosul despite terrorists use of civilians as human shields, while many were trapped in the besieged city with no humanitarian corridors provided for their escape.
The civilian casualties were immense as the Americans and their allies faced accusations from human rights groups of neglecting civilian lives and of indiscriminate bombings. The UN said at least 2,521 have been killed, adding that the figure should be considered an “absolute minimum.” An investigation by National Public Radio (NPR) revealed that the Mosul morgue had issued 4,865 death certificates during the battle, while AP estimated the civilian death toll between 9,000 and 11,000 people.
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