Abu Maitham joined Islamic State militants who ruled over hundreds of towns and villages like Rfaila for more than two years, subjecting the local population to a life of violence and privation.
Abu Maitham had already fled when Iraqi forces drove the militants from the area last year as they advanced north towards Mosul, Islamic State’s largest urban stronghold. The city’s eastern half was cleared by January and the start of an assault on the western side was declared on Sunday.
In their wake, local people are purging every last vestige of Islamic State’s presence: demolishing militants’ homes and even digging up their graves.
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