But he does not think the bomb proves IS is a real threat. "In Mosul, Daesh is over. All that's left of them are a few sleeper cells we are trying to root out," he asserted.

Most importantly, he says, IS can no longer count on the support of the people in Mosul, who helped them take over the city in 2014. "People had the worst three years of their lives. They will never do the same thing again. Many people provide us with information now. Daesh is just trying to scare them."

"Mosul is the prize"

Mosul, however, which was the capital of their self-proclaimed caliphate, is still important for the group. Outside the command centre, which was formerly a palace of Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein, Mohammed's superior, Major General Najim al-Jobori, is waiting for a convoy to take him into the city. "I told you before, Mosul is the prize. They will want it back," he admitted. At the same time, he tries to convince the civilians they are safe by joining them in markets, on the streets and – today – at a funeral.

Kurdish peshmerga leaders are also warning that IS is back and international observers say the group still poses a global threat. They may be weakened, General Weysi admits, but "[the group] is getting stronger again, learning from its mistakes and coming back with different tactics."

Ever since the liberation of Mosul, there have been warnings that IS 2.0 could rise from the ashes of its pre-incarnation. But the Iraqi government is in denial, Weysi says. "They cannot lose face. And they continue to deny the evidence because they want to get rid of the Americans."

He says that the Kurds are ready to fight the Shia militias over the territories, but would prefer to focus on IS. To that end he's calling on the European Union to step in and help reunite the anti-IS forces.

"I hope Europe will listen, because it is more of a target for Daesh than the United States. And Daesh is patient. They choose their battles. They might stay inactive in Europe for a while, but once they are back in force here, they will be back in Europe too."

Judit Neurink

© Deutsche Welle 2018

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