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Mohamad Tayeb "Mohamad" Al-Layla '64 March 31, 2017 12:10 PM updated: March 31, 2017 12:14 PM

'I feel deep pain': Newcastle student's heartache as family die in Iraq airstrike

Hala has told of her heartache after her pioneering civil engineer uncle and his family were wiped out in Mosul

11:00, 11 FEB 2017

Tears roll down the face of a grieving Newcastle student after three members of her family were wiped out in a brutal airstrike in Iraq.

Her 82-year-old uncle, aunt and cousin were killed last month as battles continue to seize back control of Mosul in northern Iraq from Islamic State.

The PhD molecular bioscience student, who only wants to be known as Hala as she fears for her own safety, came to study at Newcastle University four years ago and escaped the war-torn carnage that is raging on home soil.

But she was devastated when she was told the news that three of her loved ones had been killed as the embattled terror group fights for its survival in Iraq.

And the bombing has left ten other members of her family homeless, with nothing more than the clothes they stand up in.

Now Hala is sharing her heartache to tell of the real trauma conflict brings.

“After ISIS had occupied my city, my family were trapped there.

“When the military operation started to retake the city, the airstrike bombed our three houses and three of my family were killed,” Hala said.

“I feel deep pain as I lost my uncle and his family.

“He is like my dad, as I grew up living next door to him. He is my idol and he encourages me to get a MS.c and PhD.”

Hala who lives with her family at Newcastle, added: “My family are very well known in Mosul and highly educated.

“My uncle is Mohammed Tayeb Al-Layla, a pioneering professor in civil engineering, who had graduated from Texas University and also was a lecturer at Mosul University and specialised in the building of bridges and dams.

“My uncle’s wife is a gynaecologist and his daughter also works at Mosul University.

“I have not only lost them in the bombing but also everything we owned.

“We lost all of our pictures and everything that meant anything to us.

“Our houses have been destroyed and my family killed in a barbaric way. Their bodies have now vanished because they were so badly bombed.

“We can’t even hold a burial for them because we have no bodies. It’s been a nightmare. I cry every day as I know I will never see them again.

“We are honest people. Why did they kill them? They don’t deserve that.”

Hala was inspired by her scientist uncle to study Science and she says she will now gain her degree in her uncle’s memory.

She added: “When ISIS controlled Mosul, my cousins left the city but my uncle and his family and my sister and her family stayed.

“ISIS killed everybody who were trying to leave the city and they were taking the houses of everyone who already had left Mosul.

“My uncle had a library at his home which contained unique books, his papers and important documents relating to his work.

“He wanted to stay and protect them, but ISIS wanted to destroy everything.

“ISIS had already destroyed the library at Mosul University and he wanted to protect what he had in his house.

“It must have been terrible for him, it’s the worst feeling not being able to protect his family and keep his home safe.

“I feel like part of my heart left with them. I also lost my house, the place that I can remember every moment of my childhood.

“I will never forget my lovely uncle and I will try my best to get a PhD because he is the person who encourage me to get it.”

Hala’s sister, brother-in-law and their two children, her aunt, her uncle and his wife with their three children all escaped death after they managed to hide in the cellar when the missiles blew up their homes.

“My family who survived have left with nothing, no pictures, nothing that meant anything to them. They are homeless,” added Hala.

“We are good honest people who do not deserve this.”

Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, is ISIS’s final toehold in Iraq after they were ousted out of Ramadi and Fallujah last year.

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