Twin Reporters' 'Smartphone' Coverage of Mosul Battle Wins Iraqi Hearts

Published July 11th, 2017 - 01:26 GMT
Recognizable for their mops of hair, the pair accompanied Iraqi security forces throughout much of the campaign for Mosul (Facebook)
Recognizable for their mops of hair, the pair accompanied Iraqi security forces throughout much of the campaign for Mosul (Facebook)

by Rosie Alfatlawi

The battle for Mosul was a bloody one. Thousands of civilians were killed and a staggering 40 per cent of Iraq’s elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) was lost fighting to retake the city from Daesh.

Journalists covering the 9-month-long offensive to liberate the largest city under the self-declared Islamic State’s control also exposed themselves to considerable danger.

Two Iraqi television journalists were killed just last week, and three foreign reporters died in an explosion last month. These are just some of the journalists who lost their lives in Mosul.

There is no doubting, then, the bravery of those who put their lives on the line to show the world the devastation and suffering happening in Iraq’s second city.

One pair of journalists in particular has captured Iraqi hearts through their coverage of the fight for Mosul.

Twins Hassan and Hussein Raham are reporters for Iraqi Kurdistan-based television station NRT.

They are also admins on the popular Iraqi Facebook page and news app “al-Khowa an-Nathifa” (roughly translating as “pure brotherhood/friendship”), which has nearly a million likes. It posts about events happening across the country, relying on contributors like Hassan and Hussein to play the role of ‘citizen journalists’ through sending in local news and photos.

Recognizable for their mops of hair, the pair initially gained fame for reporting on demonstrations led by a civil protest movement in Baghdad in 2016.

More recently they accompanied Iraqi security forces throughout much of the campaign for Mosul, often using little more than their smartphones to relay news. 

Yesterday, the twins received a warm welcome upon their return to the capital after months reporting from embattled Mosul.

Congratulations to Iraqis on the great victory over the "mythical state" [mythical,or khurafa, is a play on 'khalifa' or caliph in Arabic].

Hassan and Hussein are heroes from among the sons of my province, and I am so proud of them.

They played an [important] part in communicating the facts and conveying the heroism of our security forces in the battle for Mosul.

Congratulations to them and to us on this great victory and thank you from our hearts for what you have done. God willing we will see you at the highest level, and the greatest journalists, God protect you.

The page al-Khowa an-Nathifa shared the following about the twins early on Tuesday.

“You might think that these boys have huge media corporations, funding and insurance behind them, but there is nothing of the sort”

“They were the first to enter [Baghdad’s] Tahrir Square [in 2016] when all the media were banned and for weeks they accompanied the [civil] demonstrators to convey the truth distorted by the narrow-minded partisan channels”

“And they did not stop: From Tahrir Square to Mosul in a journey that lasted seven months, through winter and in summer, as they vowed to enter with our heroic forces into every military engagement and into every dangerous operation.”

“Every picture they took was a pure bullet whose firing against the ‘sons of oppression’ we can be proud of.”

“[They] communicated to Iraq every detail, no matter how small, coming out on top in the age of technology with just a single smartphone with a single lens, [sharing] through our pages, groups, apps and participation with Iraqi media.

"They demanded the truth alone, while others were unable to enter into the field of battle as they did.”

Here is some of their social media coverage of the battle for Mosul.

They filmed this footage of Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, second-in-command to the US-trained CTS, raising the Iraqi flag on the west bank of the Tigris Sunday. The eastern half of the city, which is divided by the river, was recaptured by government forces in January this year.

Staff Lieutenant General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi raises the Iraqi flag on the bank of the Tigris River, to bring the two shores of Mosul together in an embrace. Counter Terrorism Service - The Old City.

In the Old City of Mosul

An exhausting day with the Federal Police and CTS, ended with a game of volleyball with the children of the liberated area.

Once again to Mosul

The page al-Khowa an-Nathifa continues to document the victories of the security forces in the battle to liberate the city of Mosul.Today, we accompanied the CTS, in the latest of the neighborhoods to be liberated by the heroes of the Service, Al-Zuhour neighborhood.

Today the skies of Nineveh province saw heavy rain. Lord, peace be upon our fighters and our people in the camps.

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