Amirli’s Defenders

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After the fall of Mosul, Daesh moves on to capture Amirli in north Iraq but this terrorist group is confronted with the resistance of the army and people and has to retreat after three months.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Abu Saer, Tribal Chief in Amerli: “City like Mosul, which is Iraq's second largest city, fell in just one day. The city of Amerli is not even as big and populated as one of the townships of Mosul.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Soldiers: “This place is located west of Amerli, which leads to Tikrit and Salahuddin Province. Daesh members were in these mountains. These regions supported the Daesh terrorist group.They moved toward the north of Amerli.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Conversation: “It's in the morning – four or five o'clock. five.Heavy clashes were continuous from five to eight o'clock last night.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Colonel Mostafa, Amerli Police Chief: “This is Amerli. I will tell you the incidents in Amerli from the beginning, which was on June 6. We have to go to the other side.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mahdi Taqi, Iraqi MP & Commander of Badr Brigades in Amerli: “Since the beginning, when Mosul and then Salahuddin fell into Daesh hands, I have been in contact with the governor and the head of the governing council. We also kept in touch by phone with a number of our brothers in Mosul. They called me and said, Mr. Mahdi, Mosul has fallen and Daesh has headed towards Salahuddin. Then the governor of Salahuddin called and said nothing is going on. But an hour later, I called and he told me that Salahuddin had also fallen. I prepared instantly and gathered the commanders in Amerli; the Tooz disaster unit, as well as different tribes.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Colonel Mostafa, Amerli Police Chief: “We formed a joint unit made up of the army, the police and volunteer forces.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mahdi Taqi, Iraqi MP & Commander of Badr Brigades in Amerli: “This area was where our forces and Daesh encountered each other. We attacked them from this area and they attacked us as well. This was the line between us and them.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Colonel Mostafa, Amerli Police Chief: “Daesh carried out the attack from Albu Reza. From Bastamli to Albu Hassan and then to Amerli. Look, this is where Imam Hassan's shrine is located.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Abu Abbas, Deputy Commander at Hezbollah Brigades at Amirli: “They attacked the Albu Reza region, which we're now in. The Amerli region lies on the other side of this area, and it's located about 1 to 1.5 kilometers away from this tank. Their assault was designed to attack the shrine of Imam Hassan (peace be upon him).You can see Imam Hassan's shrine ahead of this tank, on the other side.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mohammad Ali, Head of Security, Imam Hassan Shrine (PBUH): “Suddenly, Daesh tanks were only 600 meters away from this shrine, which is Imam Hassan's shrine. Amerli was under a complete siege, 360 degrees, from all directions. We were besieged by Daesh for 85 days.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Abu Saer, Tribal Chief in Amerli: “Welcome!

Please come in.

Please take a seat.

Are you Turkmen?

Turkomen.

I know the Turkish language.

You're most welcome here.

My father's a Turk.

You're most welcome here.

We're all religious brothers whether we're Turk or Persian.

Take care.

There was no medicine, no food, no electricity and no gas.

The weather was also hot in the middle of summer and people were fasting.

It was the time of wheat harvesting. We'd harvested some of the wheat and the rest needed to be harvested.

We would go and harvest it using a tractor and then grind it, and some people used it to make flour and dough.

They used paper and cardboard to bake bread.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mahdi Taqi, Iraqi MP & Commander of Badr Brigades in Amerli: “We only had three mortar shells in Amerli and we safeguarded all Amerli’s surroundings with these three mortar shells. The distance between us and the enemy was no more than this - which is about 400 meters.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Abu Saer, Tribal Chief in Amerli: “We witnessed the damned Daesh group reach Mosul and Tal Afar and then get to Bashir. Bashir is located north of here, near Kirkuk. We realized that they have no mercy on the Izadi minority, the Shias, the Christians or any other person. That's why we took all necessary security measures and sent our youth out to the strongholds. We were aware that these people have no mercy on anyone because they have no religion, no morals, no honor and no pride.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Colonel Mostafa, Amerli Police Chief: “The Amerli region is surrounded by villages. To the east, there are the villages of Albu Shukr and Albu Habsh. To the north, there are the villages of Wadi and Albu Hassan. To the northwest, there is the village of Albu Reza, and to the south, there are the villages of Pasha Galan and Qushtapa.”

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Colonel Mostafa, Amerli Police Chief: “They laid a total siege on all Amerli villages. To defend Amerli, we had set up strongholds and dug trenches around it. Our forces were based there and we could only go there at night. And if we wanted to provide our forces with food and water, we could only go there after nightfall because we were being shot at from every direction. We couldn't go there during the day because we didn't have an armored vehicle.”

Conversation [Arabic] Commander & soldiers: “How many people are there here?

Four people.

What (sort of guns) have you got?

An eight and a half.

I have an eight and a half, too.

How much ammunition have you got?

We've got enough.

Have you got a DShK or a PKC?

We have both PKC and DShK.

Well that's good.

Good, let me check it out.

Can you hear me?

Yes.

We'll see dear, come along with us but don't shoot unless I tell you to do so.

Make sure you don't shoot unless I give you an order to do so!

Sure.

We need these weapons. If anything happens, I'll tell you to shoot. We came to these strongholds at midnight to attack these villages.

Because their shooting around here was annoying our forces, we headed toward this village with six or seven RPG’s. I told our brothers to attack this place in order to reduce their fire power against our forces.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Abu Saer, Commander of Hezbollah Brigade in Amerli: “Now I'll show you the location they used to target us. They were attacking Amerli, but on our side there was a ‘one to one’ battle going on. These are all the destructions left behind from missiles and mortar shells.

Can you see this street?

Can you see where that motorcycle is?

The enemy had reached up to this area and our forces based at the Amerli checkpoint confronted them. They had advanced up here, but Iraqi forces at the checkpoint pushed them back up to there. Nine people were killed in these houses.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Commander: “On the tenth day of the Amerli siege, which coincided with the tenth day of the holy month of Ramadan, we came here from Baghdad by helicopter and landed right here to help and train the people in Amerli and improve the military and operational situation in the region. At that time, Daesh had surrounded the entire region.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Little Boy: “Whenever a helicopter wanted to reach this place, fly here from Pasha Gulen, they would attack it to prevent them from taking the sick and injured to the doctors.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Commander: “We were nearly a hundred people. We came here from Baghdad to assist the defenseless civilians and take care of their needs. Our other aim was to determine defense strategies for the Amerli region and set up strongholds to protect the area because Daesh members had completely surrounded the city.”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mahdi Taqi, Iraqi MP & Commander of Badr Brigades in Amerli: “When local forces broke the siege and entered Amerli, all officials and commanders moved into the city and gathered together at the Hosseinieh (mosque). It's hard to explain how delighted we were that day.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Colonel Mostafa, Amerli Police Chief: “We would train the security and popular forces, on how to make strongholds and dig trenches to protect themselves against Daesh's heavy weapons and shelling.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Abu Saer, Tribal Chief at Amirli: “Say you're a person that says I won't fight for my country and there's no fight. What will you do if someone comes along and wants to take away your wife, your kids and belongings and cut your head off? Would you keep silent?”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mahdi Taqi, Iraqi MP & Commander of Badr Brigades in Amerli: “Our only option is to be martyred or to be victorious. There is no other way. If we surrender, they will enter Amerli and kill us all. That's why we insisted on this action and pledged to fight until we win or become martyred.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Commander: “It's true that we were besieged and went through many difficulties, faced water shortages and had no means to communicate with the outside world, but I can remember that those days were really beautiful. They were wonderful days. When we travelled on these roads, snipers used to target us from there.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Little boy: “People were sitting here, waiting for tankers to bring drinking water from the well. They were waiting here when suddenly mortar shells were fired from Albu Hassan. A mortar shell hit the stomach of one of the people who was waiting here for water and he died. His son was sitting here too and he lost a leg.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Little boy: “My name is Hussein. I'm 12 years old and I live in Amerli. We went to a shop and bought a number of things and came out. We then went to play in a corner and after playing when we wanted to return, a mortar shell hit us. Then they brought me here.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Fazel’s son: “This is my eldest son, Fazel, who was martyred in the recent clashes in the Amerli region.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Unknown man: “This martyred hero is Adel Fikran from Amerli. He's the first martyr from Amerli. They are the brothers of martyrs, uncle Rashid and uncle Hamid. He, who was martyred, was our youngest brother. We thank God that he was martyred for the sake of our country.”

TIME CODE: 20:00_25:00

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Commander: “We used to bring the people and the wounded over here

and Daesh members targeted us with mortar shells. Once we gathered here, when suddenly a mortar shell hit this house.

Hello, how are you?

Hello, welcome, please come in.

This is where the mortar shell fell. See, they used to target us from here.

Are they Daesh members?

Yes ... They were attacking us.

Are these Daesh footages?

Yes, these are Daesh footages.

They used to shoot at us from there.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Unknown man: “They're the Daesh militants who attacked us from 36 villages and wanted to decapitate and destroy us. We defended ourselves and the holy shrines.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Unknown Soldier: “The distance between us was from here up to that stronghold, which is about seven hundred meters away. That same stronghold you see in front of you. Our nearest stronghold was only seven hundred meters away from them. These three red, pink and yellow houses fell into their hands for about four or five hours.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Unknown Soldier: “We stayed here. Our houses fell into their hands, Daesh seized these houses. We drew back from this place and continued with our resistance. Now they are walking in the canal.

Has Daesh taken these films?

These films are part of Daesh's war propaganda. This cameraman has been killed. We killed the cameraman and took his camera.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Abu Saer, Tribal Chief in Amerli: “This is their commander who was killed. This is their commander.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Unknown Soldier: “Yes, I can hear you.

Brother, where are you right now?

I'm at the base Haji.

Did you put the bombs back in their place? Did you lockdown the street?

Yeah.

Warn people not to enter the streets that have booby trapped houses.

Wait right here, let me find out what's going on here. Only Hassan and I will go inside to see what's going on here. Should we move back?

Yes, move back and take everyone away.

Should I bring it this way?

Leave it, leave it.

Is there a window behind the house so we can look inside?

I have no idea.

So, please go and take a look and check it out.

The barrel can be seen from here, but you can't see its lever.

It can be seen from here; from up here.

Now this place has been booby trapped.

See that wire, that one? It has a pressure lever.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Soldier: “Is this a bomb?Yeah, the bomb is in the barrel. It’s a barrel bomb.”

TIME CODE: 25:00_32:51

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Soldiers talking together: “Hey, Abu Mustafa, it's a powerful bomb.

Film it and get out of there.

Hey brother, it's a powerful bomb, move away.

Should we use this door?

Yeah, from here.

Abu Abbas, where are you?

I'm in Sayyad, I'm nearby.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Abu Abbas, Deputy Commander of Hezbollah Brigades in Amirli: “We've so far exploded the bombs placed in twelve houses and the Hezbollah Brigade's engineering unit is continuing with its clearing operations. At first, we try to dispose the bombs and if it can't be disposed, we explode it. If we are unable to dispose the bombs, we destroy them.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Soldiers talking together: “Battery?

No, bring the detonator, the battery is here with me. Bring the detonator along.

I'm listening. Haji, where should the camera crew go?

Okay Haji, they'll wait at the checkpoint.

Abu Mustafa, are you ready?

I'm ready, I'm ready!

Come along with us.

They couldn't enter the city.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Abu Mustafa, Commander: “As I said before, despite having seven tanks, they couldn't enter the town. They had advanced weapons like 23, 12.5 and 14.5’s. In addition to that, they had several Hummers and new vehicles. On top of all that, they had tanks as well. If you enter the city now, you'll see their burned pick-up vehicles.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Mustafa Al-Baryati, Amirli Police Chief: “Using Hummer vehicles, we launched heavy gunfire against them and eventually stopped their movement.This hero was there with me as well. My forces were all hero police officers. This hero whose name is Moaviyeh Hashem managed to kill five of them at the very beginning.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Moaviyeh Hashem, Soldier: “God willing, we will win the war and beat the enemy.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Commanders (talking together): “This is their personal carrier, which was destroyed by the Air Force. This personal carrier was hit by a shell from the Hezbollah battalion. We took these weapons as plunder from Daesh members. These are Daesh plunders. They were inside the house, but we shot them anyways. He fell here. Look, there are a few bodies here as well. Look at this, I'll show it to you right now.”

SOUNDBITE [Arabic] Soldiers talking together:“Abu Saer is a hero. These are Daesh's ammunition containers and boxes. They had such a bad fate. They were deceived.

Please have some tea.

If one stands firm in the battlefield, he'll get results.

But if anyone accepts humiliation or is defeated, the enemy will overcome him.

In a number of villages and regions in Iraq, we've seen that people didn't stand firm and Daesh overcame them.”

   

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