ISIS reverts smoking ban in Kirkuk 'to gain popularity'

ISIS militants burning boxes of cigarettes in June. (Photo courtesy: The Times)

Residents of Iraq's Kirkuk said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has backed down from its decision to ban smoking and has thus allowed selling cigarettes in areas it controls south and west of the province, Almada Press reported Saturday.

Abdulrahman al-Gabouri, a resident of Hawija, 55 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk, told Almada Press that ISIS has now allowed shops to sell cigarettes in the province and its towns.

The decision came as an attempt to gain popularity after the group’s extremist actions began to appall residents particularly after security forces, aided by international support, began to attack ISIS, the report added.

Gabouri added that ISIS forces, which have rapidly advanced over the past few months seizing swathes of Iraq and Syria, used to confiscate and destroy cigarettes by crushing them under the Hummer vehicles they seized from Iraqi security forces.

Suleiman Mokhlef Abd al-Gumayli, another Hawija resident, told Almada Press that ISIS fighters confiscated huge amounts of cigarettes weeks ago and informed shop owners they were not allowed to sell cigarettes as per a fatwa (religious edict) issued by the organization’s court and which stipulated banning cigarettes and lashing anyone who violated this rule.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45