Nearly two million refugees and internally displaced have taken shelter in the Kurdistan region. Photo: Judit Neurink.
By Nabard Hussein
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A record number of 220 people, mostly young men, have fled territories controlled by the Islamic State group (ISIS) in northern Iraq to the Kurdistan region during October.
The young men, who come from Sunni areas in Nineveh and Anbar provinces, say life has become increasingly difficult in ISIS-controlled territories, which new rules imposed virtually every day.
“Recently they said it was prohibited to smoke cigarettes in public and people could get lashes or their finger amputated if the violated the ban,” an unidentified 19-year-old Sunni man told Rudaw TV Friday at a Peshmarga base near Erbil.
He had travelled with some 50 other people who had turned themselves over to a Peshmarga brigade nearby.
“We saw the Peshmarga positions near our village near Mosul and decided to seek refuge with them,” the man said.
Many of the young men were from Mosul where ISIS has been in power since June last year.
The Iraqi government has not frozen salaries and pensions to civil servants in Mosul, fearing ISIS would gain larger influence among thousands of young men in the city.
Ismat Rajab, head of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) branch in Mosul, told Rudaw ISIS had ordered hospital personnel in the city to only treat wounded militants and send away regular patients.
Heavy clashes have recently taken place in the town of Baji, near Mosul. Most ISIS wounded have been transferred to Mosul hospital for treatment.
“They have told hospital managers that ordinary patients can be treated outside the hospitals in neighborhood clinics,” Rajab said.