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tv   Fault Lines  Al Jazeera  October 18, 2014 10:00pm-10:31pm EDT

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for you. julia parrish morris, thanks. the conversation continues on @ajconsiderthis, you can tweet me we'll see you next time. >> khanki [han-kee] refugee camp northern iraq. a family is burying a young woman they say was killed while escaping the group calling itself the islamic state. her father told us what happened.
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>> they are part of the yazidi religion, one of the groups targeted by the islamic state of iraq and the levant, also known as isil. no one knows exactly how many yazidis were killed because isil-held territory is off limits to journalists and human rights workers. but tens of thousands had to flee their homes after isil fighters captured their towns and villages in june.
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isil now controls as much as one-third of iraq's territory, including the second-largest city, mosul. though its power and influence expanded in syria, it's here where isil was born. during the nearly nine-year long u.s. occupation. fault lines travelled 600 miles across iraq to look at the consequences of the fight against isil -- and how u.s. allies are also helping to divide iraq more than ever. >> when isil advanced this summer, people across the country's northern provinces fled, some of them to neighboring syria. >> we're on a floating bridge between syria and iraq, and this is the bridge refugees are flooding through every day
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into the country. how long have you been coming? how many days? >> the u-s began bombing isil in part to rescue stranded yazidis on a mountaintop. but as refugees continued to leave the area two weeks later, they said the help was not enough. >> there were so many allegations about what went on on mount sinjar, president obama called it an
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impending act of genocide others called it a humanitarian crisis. unfortunately it seems the entire incident was used as a sound bite in a presidential speech to justify us intervention, once that sound bite was used no one remembered them anymore. >> where are you coming from? >> they've been on the mountain for about two weeks? how did they escape? >> for families tied to the land, such displacement can be devastating.
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>> here comes another truck now. they're just now leaving syria about to go into iraq. they have the threat of the islamic state behind them, but what they don't know is that the hardest times may be yet to come. because what lies ahead of them is a humanitarian crisis where tens of thousands of people don't have access to regular food, water, shelter or sanitary needs. >> the refugee camps begin only a few miles east of the bridge. the united nations estimates about one million iraqis have been displaced since isil started capturing more territory. around six thousand yazidis are staying at khanki refugee camp.
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>> "the conditions here are nothing short of brutal the temperature is somewhere between 110, 120 degrees the wind and dirt are blowing so that it's hard to keep your eyes open. and there's really nothing to shield these people from that, they have their tents but it's even hotter inside the tent during the day. the water they have to drink is hot and the food is not enough is what they tell us." >> the thing is here, that everybody wants... they want to go outside of iraq. >> our people are being kidnapped, our girls raped, woman raped, children being killed, man being killed, all the yazidi people want to get out from here. they're all want to get out from here, they all want to go to german,
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we need someone to help us! these people need someone to help. we all want to get out of here. we don't want to stay here. that's our plan. >> in the rush to escape isil's advance, hajji simu lost track of two of his daughters, aged 13 and 16. he doesn't know if they are alive.
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>> the only place in the world that yazidis are found in large numbers is in northern iraq -
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where they live in communities built around their religious shrines. but they say they have no future here, because they feel they are the targets of a genocide. >> watch more "faultlines" on demand or visit
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>> i wanted to be in on the big >> many of these involved
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some iraqi factions that are supported by the united states are accused of carrying out their own ethnic and sectarian cleansing. a half day's drive from the yazidi refugee camp, we reached makhmour - a town near the frontline that was overrun by isil in july, but then taken back in august. >> did you fight the islamic state here, when they came? >> it wasn't the iraqi army that reclaimed the town, but peshmerga fighters -- militiamen loyal to iraq's autonomous northern kurdish region. in many areas they're enforcing a policy in which arabs are not allowed to return to their homes. this kurdish fighter took us to an empty arab home, and told us he didn't mind seeing the family go. >> there was an arab family that lived here, and now they... they fled. do you think families like this should return to makhmur?
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>> man, you can tell this was a hasty departure. they were pulling what they could out of the closet and out of their drawers.
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>> we tried to talk to some of the arab families that had fled makhmour. but we weren't able to find any who were accessible or willing to be interviewed. it wasn't just the peshmerga who told us that arab families are no longer welcome here. abdullah taher (ta-her) mohamed is the head of the kurdistan democratic party in makhmour, the major political party here.
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>> do you want the arab families to return or to stay away? >> the divisions in iraq extend beyond arab and kurd. 150 miles southeast of makhmour we visited a refugee camp in diyala province, where sunnis say they were displaced by shia militias.
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>> the entire frontline is scattered with refugee camps, and each with their own harrowing stories. this camp is full of arab families, and they're not so concerned about the battle with islamic state, because they tell us they fled from they tell us that they fled from the iraqi army government allied shia militias. >> since the 2003 u.s. invasion, most of the country's power has been consolidated in the hands of the shia majority. the government of former prime minister nouri al maliki has been criticized for marginalizing sunnis and excluding them from the political process. during saddam hussein's rule, it was sunnis who were favored over shia. now, during the fight against isil, the iraqi government - dominated by shia - is receiving more support and weapons from the
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u.s. >> the u-s is stepping into an extremely bloody civil conflict and we're funding and arming kurdish and shiite militias to attack sunni areas. iraqis will not see this as a fight against extremism _ especially iraqi sunnis will see this as a fight against their neighborhoods. the us is only taking sides in a sectarian and ethnic conflict, supporting some extremist groups against other extremist groups. >> abu ali once fought in saddam hussein's army. he asked us not to show his face for fear of retribution from the militias. he said that shia militias that had formerly fought u-s forces in iraq are taking advantage of u-s backing to target sunnis. namely, asaib ahl al haq.
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>> the shiite militias that have been funded and trained by the iraqi security forces and now by the u.s. have committed gross violations. human rights watch has documented murders and crimes and torture committed by both the iraqi central government forces directly or by shiite militias affiliated with it. >> the refugees here say they
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are caught between multiple armed groups -- from isil to the shia militias, and they don't know if they will ever be able to go home.
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>> near the end of our trip to iraq, we came across shia militia fighters from asaib ahl al haq. >> they were recapturing a village from isil in the eastern province of salaheddeen [sa-la-ha-deen]. none of them would speak to us on camera. but their allies in this battle kurdish peshmerga fighters -- agreed to take us to the front. >> this is daesh. >> this is the village suliaman bek. yesterday the islamic state were holding this village. they first got there in june.
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there were air strikes from the us last night. now peshmergra has gone in and taken the village. they've got the road blocked. we've had to leave our car, we're walking up here to see what's happening. in fact, this village has been so recently taken they haven't even taken the islamic state flags yet. you can see the black flag right on top of a silo beside the road here. is that an ied? i was a bit startled because of the fire but it's actually one of the peshmerga guys firing into something trying to see if it's an ied or not. >> they say the road is booby trapped so they're going to take us around to a different way to get into the village. this is a booby trap from the islamic state. don't walk over there.
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we just crossed about three quarters of mile of open territory to get here with the pesh soldiers, to find out that they're behind this wall because there's actually a sniper around the corner here and they sent a unit out this way to clear out the sniper. >> in suleiman bek, we didn't see any iraqi troops. but we did come across a commander from the government's ministry of interior, who told us he was helping to coordinate the battle.
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>> but they're not just fighting isil. shia militias and the peshmerga are trying to consolidate control over disputed areas along the islamic state's border. >> things on the ground indicate that it is a fight for more territory. it is a fight for more natural resources. it's a fight for power. >> not far from the iranian border we met a peshmerga officer who is part of the siege of the city of jalawla. the kurds have never been able to hold on to the city as part of their territory. but they hope that will soon change. >> our forces start from there, okay? jawlawla is surrounded by our forces. do you see that? >> those two guys? >> yes. they're peshmerga. >> oh, yes, yes, i see what you're talking about... what is that smoke that is going up there? >> it's our artillery.
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as you guys see we have tanks, artillery, (heavy machine guns), and if we see any activity, we just shoot them. >> what do you see? >> we see their humvees and heavy weapons moving. they are taking advantage of these armored trucks >> are all these guys pesh merga? >> yes. all of them are pesh merga but some of them get paid from pesh merga but others are like volunteers that are coming to fight because they think we are fighting for land, not just for money. >> so like this gentlemean is... like this guy. he was injured twice just in this battle. >>wow >> and he just keep fighting >> he's a volunteer? >> yes he's a volunteer >> why is he doing it? >> he thinks this land belongs to kurdistan, and we should take it back. >> if the pesh takes back jawlawla, will they keep it as part of kurdistan? >> they will keep it for kurdistan, and they will not kick any people out..
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>> does it seem unrealistic to maintain a policy of one iraq? >> iraq should be divided into three regions. we had a good example when maliki governed for eight years. there were more killings. sunnis and shiites cannot live together. >> before the battle even begins, factions that are allied against isil are already struggling over who will take control of each city. the peshmerga and the iraqi army can't agree on who will hold on to jalawla if it's recaptured. so the attack on the city is on hold for now. >> we have an argument about jawlawla _ who will control jalawla after we take it from
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isil guys. >> is this crisis an opportunity for the kurds to extend their borders? >> yes. it is a great opportunity. >> as the peshmerga and shia militias pursue their own agendas, their alliance is threatening to unravel. and it's unlikely to extend beyond the battle against the islamic state. >> these are two different factions who are collaborating
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with the us, not really collaborating with each other. they don't work with each other at all, they don't have the same command. at the end of the day, if they had the chance to kill each other to take more territory or oil or support, they will do it. because the way that the country is built will put all of these sectarian and ethnic groups on a path of colliding against each other. >> watch more "faultlines" on demand or visit >> pain killer addiction on the rise >> i loved the feeling of not being in pain >> deadly consequences >> the person i married was gone >> are we prescribing an epidemic? >> the last thing drug companies wanted anybody to think was that, this was a prescribing problem >> fault lines, al jazeera america's hard hitting... >> today they will be
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