As the dust of war settles, Mosul buries dead anew

Wilson Fache –
Abdulrahman Riyadh points to three mounds of earth in a garden in eastern Mosul. “That’s my father, that one’s my mother and next to it is my little brother.”
“We buried them under the orange trees,” said Abdulrahman, 18.
Iraqi forces have in recent days completed their reconquest of eastern Mosul, a key step in the battle to retake the country’s second city from the IS.
Many of those killed in the fighting had to be hastily buried in improvised plots — like Abdulrahman’s family — and now many residents are looking to hold proper reburials.
Abdulrahman and his brother Adnan, who is two years older, were the only two survivors of an air strike that destroyed their home.
On January 6, 20 people were killed in a strike that levelled three homes in Al Zirai, an upmarket neighbourhood of eastern Mosul.
“Everything collapsed around me,” said Abdulrahman. “I pushed the debris around me, I got up and I asked my brother if he was still alive. He was wounded in the leg.”
“I started looking for my little brother, my father and my mother. I screamed but nobody answered.”
Because the fighting was ongoing in the area, the two surviving brothers had to settle on burying their family in their grandfather’s garden, a few blocks away.
“Can you imagine this? In one day, I bid farewell to three members of my family. I buried a part of my soul that day,” said Adnan.
The improvised burial site the Riyadh brothers found for their family is a peaceful place but they insisted they would re-inter the three bodies on the west bank when it is rid of extremists.
Maay of the victims of the offensive are being buried a second time, now that some normalcy is returning to the “liberated” east bank.
Faleh Mohammed, the gravedigger at the Gogjali cemetery on the eastern edge of Mosul, said he had been witnessing as many as 10 reburials a day.
“During the fighting, there are people who were buried in gardens, in mosques. Then a month or two later, when the neighbourhoods have been liberated, their relatives come here to re-inter them.”
He said some victims may even get a third burial.—AFP