| ||Neighbors line up at bakery to buy bread|
In the hot afternoon sun, two children dart into the small grocery store near our house and come out smiling with popsicles. A woman responds to my greeting of â€śchoni bashi?â€ť as she fills up a bag of plums. As the sun starts to drop closer to the horizon, clusters of boys are out on our street playing football (soccer). Even though Kurdish and international forces are fighting the Islamic State (IS) two and a half hours away, life, in Iraqi Kurdistan, goes on.
A shadow, however, looms over the people in the Kurdish region of Iraq. They feel it when they hear that the Kurdish Peshmerga forces have taken back towns on the edge of Mosul from the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS, also called ISIS and DAASH) fighters. But they also remember early August, when the Peshmerga had been protecting the city of Shangal (Sinjar) and the surrounding areas, but then withdrew from the areaâ€”claiming they had run out of ammunition. The withdrawal allowed IS soldiers to come in and terrorize the Yazidi people.
Even though IS had been collaborating over the past years with some Sunni populations in Iraq, in their opposition to the oppressive actions of the al-Maliki government, it was the IS takeover of Mosul in June that made the world take notice. Yet, it seemed that IS was moving toward Baghdad afterwards and not the northern Kurdish region, so the Kurds drew a deep breath. Then, on 3 August, the front got a little closer when IS captured the Mosul Dam and the city of Sinjar. Peshmerga forces responded with attempts to retake some captured towns on the edge of the Kurdish region. But it came as a surprise, when, on 6 August, IS seized four strategic towns on a key highway and advanced to positions just minutes from Erbil, the capitol of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).