ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Mosul University students on Saturday held their first spring trip to Duhok since the liberation of Mosul and the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq last year.
Over 3,500 students from Mosul University participated in the trip, looking to enjoy springtime in the Kurdistan Region, far from reminders of the toll three years of war and conflict has taken on their areas.
“Yes, we are students from Mosul University. We, the people of Mosul, got rid of Da’esh. We witnessed such hardship, but thank God, we survived,” Tahir Ali told Kurdistan 24, using the pejorative Arabic acronym for IS. “Now, we are in Kurdistan. The region is like heaven.”
“I’m a student from the Law Department... Kurdistan is a very nice and beautiful place,” Marwa Marwan told the camera while visiting the region.
Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, fell to IS in June 2014. The jihadist group declared Mosul its self-proclaimed capital in Iraq. After three years of occupation, Iraqi forces with the help of the Kurdish Peshmerga and the US-led coalition, liberated the city in July 2017.
“When people come to Kurdistan, they enjoy the landscape, its democracy and freedom. After years of struggles, we are now able to be in Kurdistan,” Omar Walid, another student, told Kurdistan 24. “This trip was the best one we’ve ever had in all our lives.”
Over the past few years, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has worked to develop its tourism sector and transform it into a source of revenue for the semi-autonomous region.
“We, as the office of the Kurdistan Student Union (KSU) in Mosul, organized this spring trip with the help of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to allow students to enjoy their time off, away from their studies and all the hardships they witnessed over the past few years under Da’esh,” Mohammed Abdullah, the executive of KSU in Nineveh, told Kurdistan 24.
Over the past three years, the Kurdistan Region has been a safe haven for 1.8 million refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), who fled from Syria and other parts of Iraq due to the threat of IS.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Masoud Mohammed contributed to this report)