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Prices soar in Mosul as troops mass for new offensive

Jareer Mohammed, Azzaman

October 28, 2008

The government is massing troops in the restive Mosul in preparation for a large-scale offensive to subdue the northern city.

Mosul is Iraq’s second largest city after Baghdad with nearly two million inhabitants.

Thousands of troops with heavy military gear have already been deployed inside the city particularly its western side.

The troops have set up scores of checkpoints and cordoned off neighborhoods in search of suspects.

It will be the third massive military offensive on the city in one year. The previous two, in which large numbers of U.S. occupation troops took part, failed to bring peace to the city.

Security has deteriorated in the city despite the presence of thousands of Kurdish militias known as Peshmerga there. An anti-Christian campaign which has so far been confined to the Kurdish-controlled areas has forced more than 2,500 Christian families to flee.

Fears of renewed fighting in the city have prompted residents to stockpile on food and other essentials.

Transport fees have skyrocketed from 30,000 dinars a month to more than 60,000. The soaring fee and temporary curfews imposed on certain districts as well as the blocking of main streets have forced many employees and students to stay at home.

Mahmoud Abdulwahid, a retired teacher, says the city’s main streets are blocked and that makes it difficult for civil servants to reach offices and students to catch up with classes.

One female Mosul University employee, refusing to be named, said she cannot make it to the campus under current circumstances.

Muyaser Khaleel said he was worried that the new offensive would take a lot of time, exacerbating the hardships Mosul has been suffering from.

Many shops are closed because owners are unable to leave homes due to the temporary closure of many streets in the city.

With residents stockpiling, prices of essentials have skyrocketed.

A kilogram of buffalo cream, a delicacy of Mosul and almost a staple for many families, has soared to 17,000 dinars from 14.

One U.S. dollar buys 1,200 Iraqi dinars. Meat has risen to 14,000 dinars from 10,000.

Average civil servant monthly salary in Iraq is about $300 but unemployment is rampant and it is estimated at around 5% in Mosul.





:: Article nr. 48317 sent on 29-oct-2008 00:50 ECT

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Link: www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news\2008-10-28\kurd.htm



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