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In the heart of IS’s would-be caliphate, PM vows history won’t repeat

Kadhimi was accompanied by the ministers of housing, migration and displacement, commerce and culture, as well as military officials.

“Our visit to Mosul is to send a message to IS: What happened will not be repeated,” he told reporters accompanying him.

Iraqi PM Mustafa al-Kahdimi.

Iraqi PM Mustafa al-Kahdimi.Credit:PMO/AP

Kadhimi inspected the iconic al-Nuri Mosque, from where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first announced the caliphate. He was also present to reopen the city’s al-Hurriya Bridge and a museum.

A military campaign dislodged IS’s territorial hold by 2017, but reconstruction efforts have been slow and often upended by local political dynamics.

Kadhimi was inaugurated as Prime Minister last month amid a severe economic crisis brought on by low oil prices. Recently, his administration has been dealing with a flare-up in coronavirus cases.

The streets of Mosul were empty and shops shuttered due to a curfew aimed at curbing the spread of the virus. The World Bank recently offered to restructure loans earmarked for reconstruction to help the country combat the viral pandemic.

Former Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Former Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.Credit:AP

A study released on Wednesday by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative found that the two most pressing concerns of Mosul residents were employment and the need to improve security. IS is still capable of launching attacks across a band of territory across northern Iraq.

The New York Times reported one such attack on a village near the Tigris River last month killed nine and wounded four members of a Sunni tribe that had opposed the group. One of them nearly burnt to death.

“This is the Islamic State in Iraq in 2020: low-tech, low-cost, rural, but still lethal. And while it has not carried out attacks on the scale that it did a few years ago, the number of attacks has begun to grow again,” the Times said.

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A recent increase in attacks coincided with the withdrawal of coalition forces in a planned drawdown to consolidate troop presence in Baghdad and Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar province in the west.

The Thursday talks were due to centre on how to curb an IS resurgence and how much help will be needed from the United States. The US has 5200 troops in Iraq. US policy is to stay while Iraq welcomes US and coalition forces for training and counter-terrorism, the Times reported.

Kadhimi also met with local officials and lambasted past corruption and mismanagement that led to the rise of IS.

“I will supervise construction contracts myself to prevent any corruption,” he said.

The rocket attack on the Green Zone was launched from nearby al-Shaab stadium east of the capital, the military statement said.

It was the second record attack this week. Late on Monday, a rocket landed on the periphery of the Baghdad airport near a military base frequented by US troops.

The perpetrators were not immediately known. The US has blamed Iran-backed militias for similar attacks in the past.

AP

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