Business is booming for one barber after liberation from Isis in east Mosul

Life is nowhere near back to normal for residents but getting rid of Isis-imposed beards is one way to start, Iraqis find 

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The Independent Online

Ali Bashar’s barbershop is the only store in Intisar, a liberated neighbourhood of east Mosul, to reopen so far - and despite the circumstances, business has never been better. 

Men have been lining up all day since Mr Bashar reopened on the weekend so he can shave off their long beards, which they were forced to grow for the last two years under Isis’ occupation of the city, Reuters reported. 

Despite the seeming normaility inside the shop, army humvees were lined up outside, and just a few streets away, the corpses of four militants covered in blankets still lay on the road.

“When [Isis] first came, they forbade cutting beards, then they prohibited using razors or thread, and then it was beard styling. Each day they would prohibit something new,” said Mr Bashar, showing an Isis flyer describing in detail rules for men’s facial hair.

At one point he had stopped working after being detained by Isis’ morality police for shaving a design into a customer’s beard - a style popular all over Iraq. 

It was not clear whether the men queuing to get their beards trimmed were there for the change in style or to take cover from the occasional sounds of gunfire and explosions outside, but most seemed happy with their cleanly-shaven faces. 

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(Reuters)

The Iraqi army officially declared Intisar free of Isis fighters on Monday after 11 days of fighting, but both soldiers and residents are still fearful of sniper and mortar fire which they say is still intermittently landing on the neighbourhood.   

Reports of mass executions of civilians as Isis tries to stamp out any signs of rebellion have also scared locals. 

The other shops on the street have not reopened because there are no foodstuffs or products to sell. The entire area is dependent on government food supplies distributed by the army, residents said. 

“There are no doctors here. If someone is shot, he will die in his house,” said Saad, a 22-year-old student. 

The US-backed Operation Inherent Resolve to drive Isis from Mosul - Iraq’s second largest city, home to an estimated 1.5million people - is now in its fourth week. The progress of Iraqi coalition forces has slowed now fighting has reached the city’s outskirts because of the presence of so many civilians and fears Isis will use them as human shields.

Mosul is Isis’ last stronghold in Iraq, and the largest city still under its control. Defeat there will ultimately spell the end of the group as a land-holding force, driving fighters back to Isis’ de facto capital of Raqqa in northern Syria, which is also under assault by a coalition of Kurdish and Arab forces. 

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