In his office, Weysi elaborates on what a group like IS needs to survive: money, ideology, executives and leadership. Money, the group earned from oil sales.

The ideology is also still there among conservative Sunnis, he says. Many foreigners and former Iraqi military and intelligence officers are still fighting with the group in their last pockets in Syria, and IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has still not been found. "There still are some 3,000 IS soldiers left. Many will come from Syria to Iraq when they lose ground there. In 2014, they only needed 500 men to take Mosul."

Mosul paying the price for IS rule

Fear is also spreading among Mosul's population, many of whom survived three years of occupation by the terror group. While they were thankful when the Iraqi military liberated their city, they no longer feel that the army and Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias are guaranteeing their safety. A Mosul policeman admitted anonymously that his colleagues know there are still IS activists in the city, but without complaints or proof of affiliation, they can do nothing.

Kurdish Major General Aziz Weysi Bani (photo: DW)
"Nobody understands the threat better than we do": at his headquarters in Erbil, General Aziz Weysi Bani of the Peschmerga gendarmerie warns against underestimating the power of the IS. For the military, the rise of IS, which everyone in the region calls "Daesh", is the result of deep-seated political conflicts in Iraq. The terrorist militia continues to benefit from the political situation in the country, he says

The fear heightened when a bomb exploded near the popular Abu Layla restaurant in western Mosul in early November, killing four and wounding 11. "Daesh is trying to show us they are here," says Major General Jasim Mohammed, the second-in-command of the Nineveh Operations Command that co-ordinates the military forces in the Mosul area. "Because we killed 15 of them a couple of days earlier."

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