In this Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015 photo, a Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stands guard, overlooking the road between Mosul and Tal afar at the front line of Eski Mosul. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)
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An unarmed Sunni Arab man walked along a road in a patch of northern Iraq newly liberated from ISIS extremists, holding a white surrender flag -- a signal to Kurdish fighters that he is not a militant.Locals have swiftly shaken off the imposed Islamic lifestyle -- but as Sunnis, from the same ethnic group as the militants, many are nonetheless bracing for treatment as collaborators.For their part, the Kurdish peshmerga troops are suspicious about why the locals chose to stay on when ISIS conquered the area in a blitz last year. The Kurdish fighters struggled for months to inch ahead, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes. On Tuesday, at least four airstrikes hit ISIS positions near Eski Mosul, a village of up to about 9,000 residents some 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of Mosul.Gen. Bahjat Taymes, who led the peshmerga operation to retake the Tal Afar-Mosul junction, said seizing it was "crucial" because it also leads to the Mosul Dam, which Kurdish and Iraqi forces won back in August with the help of U.S. airstrikes.With ISIS still sporadically shells the village -- the last time as recently as Monday -- some among the Kurds worry the villagers are tipping off the militants about the Kurdish positions.
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