Tuesday, April 8
In north, a city with close ties to Hussein chooses to fight back
Ilene R. Prusher, The Christian Science Monitor, April 8, 2003 (edition)
US, Kurdish forces close in on Mosul, home to many senior Iraqi military leaders.
KALAK, IRAQ – For the past week, US forces have been bombarding Mosul, allowing Kurdish pesh merga fighters to advance toward the city that, with Kirkuk, is at the heart of Saddam Hussein's coveted oil wealth in northern Iraq.
On each day, the response comes loud and clear: Mosul is fighting back.
Iraqi units stationed there lob shells and mortars at the Allied forces, sometimes surprising journalists who inch a few hilltops closer to the city each day, periodically diving into foxholes when the whistle-and-shatter comes crashing in.
Mosul is offering stronger resistance than expected. That should come as no surprise, say people in this town that served as the border between Mosul and Arbil - a city under autonomous Kurdish control - until the Iraqi military retreated Thursday. Many of Iraq's senior military leaders come from Mosul, and unlike other northern cities, Mosul did not take part in the 1991 uprising against Mr. Hussein.
Mosul is a city run by tribes, and its most powerful, the Leheb, supports the Iraqi leader. Moreover, several thousand Kurdish militiamen who over the years have been co-opted to fight for Hussein - other Kurds call them jash, or donkeys - have no incentive to surrender: They do not expect to be treated with mercy by the bulk of Kurds here, who see them as traitors and mercenaries.
Indeed, there has always been money to be made in Mosul, a city rich not just in oil reserves but in other natural resources and agriculture. It is home to many Iraqi factories and, Hussein's foes fear, illegal-weapons facilities. People of border towns like this one have risked their lives to smuggle goods between Hussein's Iraq and virtually autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan.[...]