The Iraqi army reinforced its positions Wednesday near Amerli in preparation for a new attempt to liberate the city. It is a war of nerves. For two months the Islamic State (EI) has besieged 12,000 of its inhabitants. This is the main Shiite enclave remaining behind the lines of that Sunni extremist group. Ayatollah Ali Sistani and the UN have warned of the risk that the jihadists perpetrate a massacre.
” Security forces in collaboration with the People’s Army are now ready to enter Amerli ” said Taki Mahdi, head of Security of the province of Saladin, the city that was quoted by the television channel Al Forat belongs.
The announcement coincides with an increase in troops and material in the area, according to the same source. The day before, the Iraqi planes bombed positions of EI in the next villages that has become strong.
The EI took around Amerli during its offensive last June. The population, mostly Turkmen Shiites mounted a fierce resistance but poor with the help of the local police. Jihadists then chose to cut the power and block all access. The Turkmen are the third largest ethnic group in Iraq after Arabs and Kurds; around 40 % of them are Shiites.
Without electricity and growing food shortages, residents of Amerli take weeks calling for a military intervention. The Iraqi Army has tried to break the blockade with helicopters bringing supplies and taking them to the sick, women and children, according to a video released by the Ministry of Defence. But the jihadists fired on them, limiting their operations.
” Currently there is no chance to evacuate,” said Eliana Nabaa, spokesman for the UN mission in Iraq, quoted by Agence France Presse. Nabaa lamented that aid could be sent was insufficient.
Amerli few miles south of the Kurdish positions is, after whose lines have found refuge hundreds of thousands of displaced persons of all faiths. But as explained to COUNTRY spokesman for the Peshmerga, Brigadier Helgurd Hikmet, these troops have not received the order to advance on the city, which is outside the territories of the Kurdistan Regional Government claims as its own.
The plight of Amerli has sparked painful comparisons. While the international community mobilized before the siege of EI the Yazidis of Sinjar, nobody has raised his voice for this population until the Shiite leader, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, appealed to come to his aid during prayer Friday.
The next day, the special UN representative in Baghdad, Nikolay Mladenov, echoed his concern and called for ” immediate action to prevent the possible slaughter.” The fears are not far-fetched. The EI considers Shiites apostates. The UN has accused the group of practicing “ethnic and religious cleansing” in the areas it controls. As in the case of Sinjar, between the escape of Amerli also circulate horrific stories from families who have killed men and women have been as human shields or to rape.
” People survive in desperate conditions,” claimed Mladenov before urging ” the Iraqi government to do everything in their power to lift the siege.” The UN representative also called on the international community to ” assist the authorities to prevent a tragedy.”
After the beheading of an American journalist EI as brutal response to his expulsion from the Mosul Dam, humanitarian sources fear that the group can attack Amerli as sectarian provocation. But if the liberation of the city only trust Shiite militias, which constitute the bulk of the volunteers, it also runs the risk of unleashing a spiral of revenge against the Sunni population.
Moreover, these troops have already tried unsuccessfully to recover the city several times. Hence some have called for air intervention of the USA and concerted action by the Iraqi Army and Kurdish forces.
Amerli and sadly came to the holders of the international media in June 2007 So in the midst of sectarian war that bled the country, a truck bomb killed one hundred people and wounded at least 250 a pop in the middle of a market.