This story is over 5 years old.


Some Iraqis think the liberation of Mosul could be the start of a bloody new chapter

"If you're going to slaughter me, slaughter me."

This segment originally aired Oct. 24, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

Not everyone in Mosul and the surrounding areas of Iraq is eager to greet liberation forces.

Iraqi troops along the southern front in the battle to retake Mosul are encountering stronger resistance than they’d expected. This region of Iraq has always been hostile to the government in Baghdad and wary of would-be liberators.

“We had Saddam Hussein. So he was a bad person, right?” Pejwani resident Alshad Naffouri told VICE News correspondent Seb Walker. “But then look what came next! What are you going to do? If you’re going to slaughter me, slaughter me.”

Naffouri does not support ISIS, but he is also skeptical of government forces. Sectarian conflict complicates the situation further, as most locals like Naffouri are Sunni, while the advancing military is predominantly Shia.

Many people like Naffouri fear that the battle for Mosul might only be the start of another bloody chapter in Iraq’s history.

Watch next: We talked to David Petraeus about the battle for Mosul.