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Shia militiamen rally in place of Iraq security forces, while ISIL releases recruitment video

June 17, 2014 at 6:15 PM EST
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GWEN IFILL: President Obama is expected to meet with congressional leaders on Iraq tomorrow. At the same time, a State Department spokeswoman said she doesn’t expect the U.S. and Iran to have any more discussions about Iraq on the sidelines of nuclear talks in Vienna.

In Baghdad, 10 people were killed and dozens injured in a car bombing in a Shiite neighborhood today. And the country’s prime minister dismissed four of his top security officers after the city of Mosul fell to insurgent forces late last week.

In the north, it appears Shia militia are beginning to fill the void left by fleeing government forces.

Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News is there.

JONATHAN RUGMAN, ITN: These Shia militiamen are chanting that they are answering their country’s call, scores of them filmed apparently headed to Tal Afar today. The army seemingly deserted them in the face of Sunni extremists. So now it’s guerrilla warfare on both sides.

Their city fell to ISIS yesterday. But it was fear of government airstrikes which sent this family packing, leaving home at 3:00 this morning. Tal Afar is a city of 200,000 people. Now unknown numbers of Sunni and Shia are fleeing it, joining those still escaping from Mosul, Iraq’s second biggest city, which fell a week ago.

In Mosul itself, residents filmed ISIS militants as if they were a tourist attraction, even if some of the jihadists are probably foreigners and conflict tourists themselves, the bustle of everyday life here shown perhaps as a deliberate contrast with the executions and atrocities of recent days, though this ISIS fighter is ordering a woman to cover her head up.

At this checkpoint near the city, Ibrahim Salim told us he couldn’t be sure which side in this conflict frightened him the most.

Were you frightened of them because they are radical jihadists?

IBRAHIM SALIM: It’s really, you don’t know who’s your enemy. You don’t know, is the government of Iraq or you don’t know if that — or the jihadi is your enemy. You don’t know. Everybody — like, in the beginning of two days, there was bombing the civilians. We don’t know…

JONATHAN RUGMAN: By whom?

IBRAHIM SALIM: We don’t know. Just a bomb fell down on the people.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: Merging into this crowd, we found soldiers from Tal Afar now seeking sanctuary in the Kurdish north, after abandoning their posts in fighting yesterday.

Islamic extremists were driven out of Tal Afar by the American Army. But the story, which seems to be emerging from these people who have fled from the conflict today, is the army that the Americans trained gave up. It ran away without putting up too much of a fight. This soldier feared reprisals from either side. He said he had surrendered to ISIS after his commanders escaped first.

Did the Americans train you, though, to fight?

MAN (through interpreter): Yes, we were trained by the Americans for three to eight months. But the issue was, we’d ran out of ammunition. Otherwise, we would’ve resisted.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: How many dead people did you see with your own eyes?

MAN (through interpreter): I have seen many dead people, between 100 to 150. Two of my friends were killed. We haven’t found their bodies yet.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: We can’t verify that figure. Another soldier told us he feared the Sunnis of ISIS would disfigure or execute him if they found out he was a Shia from the south.

SABAH SAAD (through interpreter): It was very frightening coming through the ISIS checkpoint. ISIS are terrorists. It’s terrifying. They’re against civilians, and they are against the army.

JONATHAN RUGMAN: Tonight, ISIS launched a chilling new global recruitment video for what it called the decisive battle. “Hungry lions are being unleashed,” it said, calling this a jihad against Shiites, its stated target, Baghdad.