Mountain town offers relief to war-weary Iraqis

The town of Soran in northern Iraq has so far remained immune to the violence raging in the country.

Photo by: TRT
Photo by: TRT

The Iraqi town of Soran has so far remained immune to the violence in Iraq.

Updated Sep 10, 2016

There has been little respite for Iraqis since war broke out in their country over a decade ago.

The US-led invasion in 2003 and the emergence of DAESH have left the country in a perpetual state of civil violence.

But amid cool waterfalls and colourful rubber rafts, there is a place where throngs of Iraqis have found temporary relief from the conflict that has engulfed their country.

This is the town of Soran in northern Iraq's Erbil Governorate.

Tall mountains dot the route to the town, and the change in landscape provides a pause from Iraq's fight against DAESH.

"The security situation is better than it was before. We've come here as tourists to entertain ourselves," Dr Fadel Abed Ali, an anesthetist from Baghdad, says.

"This is our country and we are also supporting the economy. Our Kurdish brothers are very helpful. There are lots of beautiful places here," Ali says of the region, which is administered by the government of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.

There has been a surge in bombings committed by DAESH this year — more than 300 people were killed in multiple attacks in July alone. Operations by Iraq's security forces against the group have intensified in recent months.

Soran has so far remained immune to the violence due to its secure geopgraphical location. It sits in the foothills of the Zagros mountains near Iraq's border with Iran and Turkey.

"I'm taking photos of tourists from all around Iraq.  And from abroad like Iranians and Turks. They can come here and be assured their life and property is protected," a photographer and resident of the area says.

This may come as a surprise as the region shares a 1000 kilometre long border with DAESH-held territory. It may also be a sign that operations by Iraqi forces are bearing fruit.

This week the Iraqi Army liberated the Qayyara district of Nineveh Governorate, also in the north.

The battle to retake Mosul – a DAESH stronghold – is underway.