Iraq’s olive region looks to rebuild after severe damage by ISIL

Global Business

Iraq's olive region looks to rebuild after severe damage by ISIL

Bashiqa, fifteen kilometers north of mosul, is known as Iraq’s olive region. Hundreds of thousands of olive trees growing there for centuries have been the mainstay of a thriving olive, olive oil and soap industry.

But that changed when ISIL took control in 2014. Bashiqa is now ISIL-free, but the olive business may never go back to what it used to be.

CCTV’s Stephanie Freid report.  Follow Stephanie Freid on Twitter @stefanella

Iraq’s olive region looks to rebuild after severe damage by ISIL

Bashiqa, fifteen kilometers north of mosul, is known as Iraq’s olive region. Hundreds of thousands of olive trees growing there for centuries have been the mainstay of a thriving olive, olive oil and soap industry. But that changed when ISIL took control in 2014. Bashiqa is now ISIL-free, but the olive business may never go back to what it used to be.CCTV’s Stephanie Freid report.

The five-acre olive grove belongs to what was Bashiqa’s biggest olive oil and tahini producer, the adjacent, family-owned factory produced thirty-five tons of olive oil per year for markets in Iraq, Kurdistan, Germany and Sweden.

But then ISIL came in in 2014 and trashed it – stealing the machinery, generators, multiple tons of olives and more than a million dollars’ worth of sesame seeds. 

A graffiti message left behind: “The Caliphate Follows the Path of the Prophet.”

Peshmerga fighters pushed ISIL out of Bashiqa in early November, but the town remains deserted. There’s not much to come back to and residents who previously lived under Iraqi governance fear Kurdish Peshmerga may not leave. 


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