Mosul residents urged to revolt against ISIS
LONDON - Iraqi warplanes have reportedly distributed flyers over Mosul urging residents to revolt against Islamic State (ISIS) militants once they see the army inside the city.
The message read: “Your armed forces entered the gates of Mosul from all sides. It fought and is fighting for you and for great Iraq. Special forces are nearby and you will be informed about them in the right time. Side with them and help them fight apostate ISIS.”
“Revolt against ISIS, as their ranks are weakened, their pride is lost and their leaders are fleeing. It is the right time to totally destroy them at the hands of your armed forces, with your help, the sons of the city and its patient people,” the message added.
The message followed instructions — also distributed in airdrops — urging Mosul’s residents to stay indoors and away from ISIS for their own safety. The earlier flyers, which were distributed prior to the launch of the military offensive on October 17th, told the residents to get ready to revolt against ISIS.
A message from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in September called on the people of Mosul “to get rid of ISIS immediately”. Their revolt “will make it easier for our forces to enter [Mosul] God willing”, he told ALMawsleya TV.
Some observers said such messages endanger civilians at a time when they are vulnerable to being caught in the crossfire between Iraqi forces and ISIS. According to the UN human rights office, 40 people were killed by ISIS for “treason and collaboration” with Iraqi forces.
“I’m not too surprised that the Iraqi authorities have asked largely unarmed civilians to take on the burden of pushing ISIS out of Mosul,” said Tallha Abdulrazaq, a researcher at the University of Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute in England. “After all, their self-imposed deadline of three weeks to properly enter the city has long elapsed with the only solid ground under their feet being in Kokjali, just outside of eastern Mosul, and not part of Mosul.”
Iraq’s elite forces said they had resumed the offensive against ISIS in the streets of Mosul “after a few days of quiet”. They said they met stronger-than-expected resistance but they are holding onto the six neighbourhoods they seized.
Iraqi Shia militias, known as the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), continue their advance on the town of Tal Afar, to cut off Mosul’s western supply routes from Syria.
Iraq’s Kurdish peshmerga fighters, however, said their military goals have been completed. “According to the plan we set with the unity government, the peshmerga has now accomplished all the goals set for it,” Jabbar Yawar, secretary-general of the Kurds’ peshmerga ministry, told Agence France- Presse.
A local Kurdish chief, Major-General Jamal Weis, also speaking to AFP, said: “If the peshmerga enters an area and liberates it, it will stay with the peshmerga.”
The International Organisation for Migration said nearly 48,000 people have fled their homes since the military operation began to recapture the city, which is host to more than 1 million people. Human rights groups have documented abuses allegedly committed by ISIS, Shia militias, Iraqi government forces and peshmerga, as well as Arab Sunni tribal fighters.
Amnesty International called on Iraqi authorities to urgently investigate incidents in which it said residents in villages south of Mosul were tortured and extrajudicially executed.
“Men in Federal Police uniform have carried out multiple unlawful killings, apprehending and then deliberately killing in cold blood residents in villages south of Mosul. In some cases the residents were tortured before they were shot dead execution-style,” Lynn Maalouf, deputy director for research at Amnesty International’s Beirut Regional Office, said in a release.
“Without effective measures to suppress and punish serious violations, there is a real risk that we could see war crimes of this kind repeated in other Iraqi villages and towns during the Mosul offensive,” Maalouf said.
There are growing concerns that ISIS will be using more chemical weapons once their leaders feel cornered.
“ISIS attacks using toxic chemicals show a brutal disregard for human life and the laws of war,” said Lama Fakih, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Middle East director. “As ISIS fighters flee, they have been repeatedly attacking and endangering the civilians they left behind, increasing concerns for residents of Mosul and other contested areas.”