30−32 Shirqat / Assur River miles: 457
Members of the Iraqi army would accompany us now all the way through Salahaddin Governorate. A man from the mukhabarat escorted us from Gayara to Shirqat. He wore a pork pie hat and a polo shirt and had the usual bulge in his belt. His deputy had a beige suit, skinny necktie, and wore a pencil moustache and trilby, like a fifties gangster. It was only after a while that I realized they were trying to look normal. When we had to move by road, our team traveled in a 1980s Kia minibus, because it was cheap and we liked how quirky it was. Inside, ornate tissue boxes were stuck upside down to the roof, in case of emergencies requiring a Kleenex. Behind the driver’s head was a framed picture of the bus itself, parked proudly on a busy street in Mosul. It didn’t go faster than 40 mph and had no working air conditioning, but these failings we could forgive. The military Humvees topped and tailed us in a very peculiar convoy. Occasionally, one of their vehicles would pull up alongside us and a soldier would lean out of a window to hand us fresh fruit or dates.
Source: The Daily Beast
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