Author: Bethan McKernan
Isis militants have posed as Iraqi army troops and killed at least 15 civilians who welcomed them into central Mosul, Iraqi officials have said.
Men, women and children trapped in one of the last Isis-held areas of the city greeted the men driving black cars and wearing police and security forces uniforms, a Joint Operations Command (JOC) and local official in Baghdad told media on Tuesday.
After tricking residents into showing their support, encouraging singing and chanting, the disguised Isis fighters then shot them “to make it clear the area was still under enemy control,” the JOC said.
Hossameddin al-Abbar, a member of Nineveh’s provincial council, told the AFP that at least 15 civilians were arbitrarily ‘executed’ for showing disloyalty to Isis, and many more were arrested.
Isis is clinging on to a tiny fraction of Mosul – once home to 1.5million people – after a gruelling street-by-street US-backed campaign to clear militants from the city which began October last year.
The intense fighting has included Isis tactics such as suicide car bombings and the use of civilians as human shields at strategic locations. Snipers, booby-trapped roads and bridges and an extensive tunnel network have also slowed the operation to drive the jihadis from what was once the largest settlement under their control.
Thousands of Iraqi troops and civilians have died in the battle. US-led coalition bombing campaigns have also been blamed for civilian deaths.
Isis’ brutal methods of keeping civilian populations under its control such as drownings, shootings and beheadings for minor infractions of its strict interpretation of sharia law reportedly intensified as the struggle for control of Mosul began.
Residents fleeing the brutality have reported incidences where Isis fighters pose as Iraqi security forces in order to trick civilians into showing their support on several other occasions.
While the militants are steadily losing ground across both Syria and Iraq, analysts believe Isis likely to pose a threat in the form of a global insurgency for many years to come.