Published date: 18 April 2015 00:57 UTC
| Last update:5 years 3 months ago
MEZALIYA, Iraq - The Sunni village Mezaliya, a few kilometres east of Tikrit, near the Hamrin mountains, is no longer part of the so-called “Caliphate”. Mezaliya was “liberated” in early April along with Tikrit. But in this war the meaning of “liberation” is quite complex from the point of view of the inhabitants of a Sunni village.
Al-Hashd al-Shabi, a Shiite-dominated coalition of various militias, fought against the Islamic State (IS) group in Mezaliya. But some Sunni communities who see themselves as oppressed by the Iraqi government support IS. Therefore, the villagers of Mezaliya are put under general suspicion by al-Hashd al-Shabi.
“Don’t accept an invitation for tea … it could be poisoned,” a Shiite fighter said during Middle East Eye’s visit to Mezaliya. On the other hand, IS accuses these same civilians of supporting their Shiite enemy. So the village, consisting of simple homes for some 300 inhabitants, including refugees from Mosul, is quite literally trapped. The people of Mezaliya find themselves at the same time between accusations coming from two sides and between the respective frontlines.
The noise of battle is present in the village. IS fighters are hiding in the hills, in sight, and they still pass through the village at night. Shiite militias come during the day, providing food and water, according to the citizens.