Iraqi pon­toon is only link for wary Mosul res­i­dents

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

MOSUL: On a pon­toon bridge con­nect­ing East and West Mosul, res­i­dents of a city shat­tered by the bat­tle to ex­pel Is­lamic State cross back and forth, try­ing to re­build their lives from the rub­ble.

The tem­po­rary struc­ture, known as the Vic­tory Bridge, is the only cross­ing over the Ti­gris River in the city it­self. Other bridges, in­clud­ing the land­mark Iron Bridge, were wrecked in nine months of ur­ban war­fare which saw Iraqi gov­ern­ment forces fight the mil­i­tants -streetby-street and house-by-house.

With Mosul back in gov­ern­ment hands, hun­dreds of peo­ple stream over each day to check homes in the dev­as­tated west side, sal­vage be­long­ings or find a place to stay in the east.

All have tales of hard­ship and suf­fer­ing un­der three years of IS rule and, de­spite their re­lief that is over, now they are wor­ried about their present predica­ment and the fu­ture.

Many peo­ple from West Mosul, where whole neigh­bour­hoods were flat­tened in air and ar­tillery strikes by a US-led coali­tion, are strug­gling to pay rent in tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Of­ten they have no work and are run­ning out of funds.

Safwan al-Habar, 48, who has a house in al-Zin­jili district, had spent a morn­ing seek­ing help af­ter IS had booby-trapped his house.

“Two bombs were at­tached to each other with wire. If you put your leg on it, it will ex­plode,” he said.

“Do you know any­one who can re­move it?” he asked. “Ev­ery day I go to the mil­i­tary and ev­ery day they say come back to­mor­row. I am in a mess.

“I’m pay­ing rent but I want to go home.” Reuters

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