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Middle East

Iraqis on social media express solidarity toward expected liberation of Mosul

Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga have launched an attack to liberate Mosul from "Islamic State." Iraqis on Twitter have been showing their solidarity with the anti-IS coalition as well as some concern.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on Sunday the plan to liberate Mosul from "Islamic State" (IS) in the coming days. It is considered to be the largest deployment of Iraqi forces since the 2003 invasion led by the United States.

Mosul fell to IS militants in June 2014 and is the second-largest city in Iraq after its capital, Baghdad. The city also lies near several oil fields, which IS has been using to finance its operations.

Ayad Jamal al-Din, a popular Iraqi intellectual and Shiite cleric, posted this photo on Twitter of Iraqi forces with the words "Free Mosul" on it. Above the photo he writes: "We will not leave IS in one piece on Iraqi soil, whether it be in the cities of Baghdad, Basra or Karbala."

Al-Din is a supporter of religious and social cohesion in Iraq. In this tweet he continues by saying: "Mosul is Iraq in miniature. Mosul is Sunnis, Shiites, Christians, Yazidis, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen."  

We're coming, Mosul

Ahmed Ali Hussein posts this photo of the Iraqi forces, which says "Iraq is made up of our heroes and our men." Above the photo he writes "We're coming, Mosul."

Alaa Koli is tweeting constant updates of the offensive - he has thousands of followers.  In this tweet he writes that "Iraqi forces have raised the Iraqi flag over the Hamidiyya district of Mosul" and adds the hashtag "free Mosul." 

Unintended consequences

Although many anticipate that the anti-IS coalition will be victorious in the offensive on Mosul, many worry that there will be a large exodus of tens of thousands of civilians from the city due to the fighting. Another worry is that the Shiite militias, known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, will engage in revenge killings against the Sunni majority population of the city.

Irak Milizen (Getty Images/AFP/A. Al-Rubaye)

Members of the Shiite Popular Mobilization Units

These Popular Mobilization Forces are considered to be aligned with the Iraqi Prime Minister's government and are technically a part of the country's armed forces. Haider al-Abadi has promised to keep these forces away from the city and to restrain them from committing any crimes.

On Twitter, a popular hashtag has been "Save Mosul from the Mobilization forces." Some Sunnis believe that IS and the Shiite militias are two sides of the same coin - sectarian rhetoric has skyrocketed on the social media platform.

"The coalition of the Shiites, the West, and the Persians are a danger to the Muslim nation. Watch out" says user Saheb Rai. He is engaged in sectarian rhetoric that Shiites are not Muslims.

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