Iraqi children flying white flags flee the fighting. Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region -- ISIS has sent reinforcements of foreign fighters to Mosul from Syria as the militants prepare to put up a fierce fight for the city while using brutal tactics to instill fear among civilians in order to control the population, sources inside the city say.
Inside Mosul, militants are moving to the western side of the city and locating themselves in the old neighbourhoods among the civilian population, the Mosul Eye, a blogger and historian providing one of the few sources of information from the city, told Rudaw English.
The population is now afraid of airstrikes as the separation between the militants’ positions and the civilians shrinks.
The militants have set up many checkpoints throughout the city and closed off streets in order to prevent the movement of people. “If the people will try to leave,” said the Mosul Eye, “There will be no chance for them.”
Kurdish and Iraqi forces are closing in on the city from the north, east, and south. The west remains open and ISIS controls westward routes. Supplies are still able to enter the city, presumably through the western routes. But the people do not have the money to buy basic goods, the Mosul Eye said.
Though the city is large, with more than 1 million people trapped, they are gripped by fear. There are more than 2,000 people in prison. Within just three days, ISIS has executed more than 50 of the prisoners. Anyone in possession of a SIM card is executed as a spy.
Tuesday morning, ISIS publicly executed 23 prisoners near Ibn Sina Hospital, the Mosul Eye reported.
Parents no longer ask for the bodies of their executed sons, he said, as such a request will only cause trouble for them.
It is unknown what ISIS is doing with the bodies of the executed prisoners.
The United Nations also has reports of the militants carrying out extrajudicial killings and summary executions of civilians, and using civilians as human shields, in and around the city.
ISIS killed 15 civilians in Safina, south of Mosul, and threw their bodies in the river “apparently in an attempt to spread terror among the other residents,” Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, reported on Tuesday, adding that the reports were preliminary and further verification was needed.
Colville added that they have received reports of ISIS tying and dragging relatives of a tribal leader fighting alongside Iraqi forces.
In one village south of Mosul, Tuloul Naser, Iraqi forces found 70 bodies inside the houses. They had been shot but it is unknown by whom, Colville said. In another location, 50 former police officers were killed on Sunday.
“We very much fear that these will not be the last such reports we receive of such barbaric acts by ISIL, and repeat our call on Government forces and their allies to ensure their fighters do not take revenge on any of the civilians who escape from areas under ISIL control, and treat all suspected ISIL fighters they capture in accordance with international humanitarian law,” Colville said, using an alternate acronym for ISIS.
This state of fear is how the militants, who are estimated to number less than 5,000, are able to control the city.
Though the fear of ISIS is great, the people of Mosul are also afraid of the militias entering the city. “We are not sure about the plans during and after the battle,” said the Mosul Eye. “They must make sure that the people will be safe, protected from any revenge actions.”
While Baghdad, Erbil, the US, Turkey, Iran, provincial leaders, and tribal members all discuss and debate the future of Mosul, the population does not see any Sunni leader who is able to represent the city, he said, reiterating the call for an international force to enter Mosul to provide protection and security.