Residents of Mosul and Samarra, and a spokesman for a militant group, speak about their experience of the latest conflict
Iraqis leave Mosul
Hani Azzam, 45 years old, businessman and father of 10 in Kirkuk
Kurdish peshmerga forces have been in Kirkuk a long time but not with the presence they have now. They started massing on Wednesday when Arab fighters came to the outskirts of Kirkuk, it alarmed them and they called in more men.
The fighters are mainly in Hawija, a town in Kirkuk province dominated by Arab tribes. The Iraqi military has no hold on it and neither do the peshmerga.
On Wednesday evening the Arab fighters took control from the Iraqi army. Soon after, the peshmerga moved their equipment to deal with the Arab fighters but they sustained heavy losses and retreated. They tried again on Thursday but the resistance was even stronger as now the fighers had the armoured vehicles they had taken from the Iraqi army.
I just got back home after a trip to Kirkuk city centre. It is full of peshmaraga patrols, but it seems Kirkuk city is not in the fighters' calculations – they didn't advance from the outskirts so they might have decided to put off fighting the Kurds.
As a local Arab man in Kirkuk, I have to say that the Kurds are benefiting a lot from the current crisis but I can also understand the wisdom leaving Kirkuk to them. The Turkman community is upset that the Kurds are making use of the situation to control the city.
We are all in state of alert, a curfew is declared from 11pm to 6am. There is an abnormal situation in the city. People are stocking up food in panic and the prices jumped up at once. You can see queues of cars on fuels. No one is leaving the city, and we are taking in families from Hawija, Mosul and Tikrit.
People are worried of the Iraqi government's reaction. All the Arab community in Kirkuk support the fighters and the revolution to liberate Iraq, but we do not want to loose our conflict with the Kurds. We do not want to be part of a deal between the Kurds and Maliki. Malki would let the Kurds take Kirkuk if their support would help get rid of the fighters.
Taher Hassan, 40-year-old father of six, car dealer in Samarra
Two days before the liberation of Mosul, fighters showed up in Samarra and took control of the city – every part but the military command near the holy shrines. All the local police forces have pulled out of their bases in the city. The fighters are negotiating with the tribes who are in charge of the two shrines so they can try to convince army forces near the shrine to hand themselves over without a fight.
Everyone in Samarra is happy with the fighters' management of the city. They have proved to be professional and competent. We have water and power; there is a shortage in fuel because Maliki's forces have cut the bridges between Samarra and Baghdad. The fighters themselves did not harm or kill anyone as they swept forward. Any man who hands over his arm is safe, whatever his background. This attitude is giving huge comfort to people here.
Four days ago, Maliki's forces raided al-Razzaq mosque in Samarra, brought a few locals whom they picked up from different parts of the city and killed them in the mosque. What do you think the people's feeling would be towards these military forces? We have lived enough years of injustice, revenge and tyranny, and we can't stand any more.
We as Sunni people have never been treated fairly by Maliki's fanatic government and army. If it were not a sectarian army, it would have fought to the end but they fled as soon as things got serious. A friend of mine, a shopkeeper in Samarra, told me the army and police have bought more than 1,000 dishdash (a smock worn commonly by men in Iraq) to prepare themselves to flee in civilian clothes in case they are cornered by rebels. The army's main interest is money – most of them are militiamen not professional soldiers.
I have not seen any Isis [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant] fighters in the city. The entire resistance is now formed of local Samarra men – mainly fighters with Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri [Saddam Hussein's vice president] groups, a few ex-military officers and a few others with al-Naqshbandiyya. They are all fighting together now to reach Baghdad. These fighters have taken the weapons of the military bases without any fight in Tikrit and Mosul and can fight for years not for days.
Dr Ali Abu Tiba, media coordinator for al-Naqshbandiyya Resistance Movement in Iraq, Mosul
Mosul now is stable and quiet. There are no armed signs in the city at all, you might see two or four fighters at the main entrances of the city but not inside. Life is normal inMosul. Our fighters are advancing towards Baghdad without any significant resistance from the military forces. All we are doing is negotiating with the army and police commanders, as well as tribes leaders, and they are coming over to our side.
The fight now is in the Baghdad suburbs, near al-Taji district. We have prepared enough men and arms, and been waiting for this day for more than 10 years. All the fighters are Iraqis from different parts of Iraq, in addition to senior military leaders who are leading the battles and setting up our plans. This is the reason we are advancing farther day by day.
We are prepared for any attack by Maliki's collapsed forces or the Americans. We have pilots who are ready to fight and can attack any spot in Iraq. Four airports have been liberated so far in Mosul and near Samarra and their planes have been confiscated.
We have declared a general amnesty to anyone, including military forces, who has handed their weapons in and volunteered to fight with us. We are not cooperating with Isis in Syria – all media reports claiming we have are baseless. Still we welcome any one who wants to fight even if they are members of Isis.
Abu Riyad, 50 years old, tribal leader in Mosul
I live in Hay al-Nour in Mosul on the left bank of the Tigris river. I'm the head of a big tribe in Mosul – more than 35 members of my family live in the same neighbourhood. Not one of us has left our home.
For two days now, after the fighters took our neighbourhood, the army forces have not fought back. They left their weapons behind.
It seems the fighters have a good security plan for the city. They really know the nature of the city and have not made the same mistakes as the US forces, or Maliki's forces, when they invaded Mosul. They are protecting all the government buildings and have not destroyed or stolen anything. They haven't harmed anyone.
[Isis] fighters have opened and cleared out all the bridges, roads and checkpoints set up by the army. Now, we can move easily. It is so quiet here – not a bullet has been fired so far. Most of the families who fled the city began to head back today. We have suffered a lot under Maliki's unfair government. It is a sectarian Iranian government. Detention, killing and displacement against the people of Mosul has not stopped for 10 years. We've had enough injustice and corruption and no longer accept Maliki's army. Since the US invasion organised ethnic cleansing was taking place here. Maliki's men would show up on TV revealing their love of peace and security but the reality is completely different. They are all killers, fanatic and sectarians.
All the fighters who are in control of our neighbourhood now – or at least those I have encountered – are Iraqis and well trained.
Last Thursday, the fighters attacked the right bank of the Tigris. The army used planes and mortars in the fight, in a crowded residential area. The bombardment cut the power and water supply, and sparked panic. Many civilians were killed.
They are getting closer to Baghdad's suburbs. I believe this is the end of Maliki and his gangs, but we are worried that he will look to the US forces for help. Can you believe that the armed forces that have had millions spent on them for more than 11 years have collapsed within a few hours?
Dr Ghazi al-Faisal, official spokesman for the Iraqi People Revolution in Baghdad
Iraqi rebels from Falluja, Tarmiyia, Abu Ghraib and Latifiyia are advancing towards Baghdad quickly. Morale has collapsed in the so-called Iraqi army, which is merely made up of sectarian militias. We are sweeping towards Diyala province too and Jerf al-Sakher in Hilla province.
We want to mass up our forces in all these areas and launch a unified attack to liberate Baghdad. So far, we have not faced any resistance by Maliki's forces.
We have been able to liberate Mosul and Tikrit and in Kirkuk only the centre is held by peshmerga. We expect to take the whole city, as the rebels believe the peshmerga won't fight.
All the rebels massing around Baghdad are now waiting for the final signal. We are looking forward to being in Baghdad soon.
The most remarkable thing about this revolution is that it is a people's revolution against injustice and tyranny, though the government is trying to claim that it is an Isis revolution and the fighters are bunch of terrorists.
All the fighters are Iraqis and they fought the US forces ferociously and kicked them out of Iraq - and that is why they have support wherever they are progressing. Our main goal is to liberate Iraq from this sectarian government, in the same way we liberated it from the Americans.
All the Sunni districts in Baghdad are waiting for our call to raise up against Maliki.
URL of this article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/12/voices-from-iraq-mosul-samarra-isis