‘Radio war’ prepares for recapture of Mosul
ERBIL - As the battle to recapture Falluja began and with Iraqi forces making gains against the Islamic State (ISIS) elsewhere in Iraq, attention may soon turn to liberating northern areas, including Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul.
The Iraqi military is broadcasting on a radio station called Free Mosul, which carries news of Iraqi Army victories in Nineveh province. The Iraqi government said it would launch other radio stations to broadcast in Arabic, Kurdish and Turkish in the area.
“Iraq has begun a media war against ISIS,” said a Mosul journalist, who requested anonymity for fear of ISIS retribution.
With the beginning of the assault on Falluja on May 22nd, Facebook pages were awash with news of fighting, allowing Mosul residents to reply with prayers or messages and wishing Falluja residents a quick liberation.
“Mosul is next after Falluja and everyone knows that,” military expert Abdul Karim Khalaf said.
“Iraqi counterterrorism agents, the 9th Armoured Division and the new 16th Division will finish the job there soon,” Khalaf said. He predicted the battle to liberate Mosul was fast approaching.
Mosul Eye, a Facebook page with reliable news in the city, said in a May 20th post that ISIS executed 25 young men by throwing them into a pool of nitric acid. The report said the men were charged with “spying and collaboration” with Iraqi security and coalition forces in the Al-Qusur neighbourhood, west of Mosul. Other media, citing various sources, confirmed the report.
The executions were based on SIM cards that allegedly had been found in the possession of the suspects. The cards belonged to cell phone service providers in northern Iraq’s Kurdish areas. Many Mosul residents have been buying SIM cards to communicate with people in other cities and the outside world after ISIS jammed local mobile phone companies Asiacell and Zain.
“In late April, they took my brother because they found the Korek Tel SIM card in his cell phone,” said Shith, a 21-year-old who recently arrived in Kurdish city of Erbil from Mosul.
“The other mobile telecommunication systems, Asiacell and Zain, stopped working in Mosul but ISIS has failed so far to stop the Korek Tel service and it has since become a crime to find its SIM cards with people,” Shith said, declining to give his full name for fear of ISIS retribution.
Shith said he paid a Kurdish trafficker $3,000 to smuggle him out of Mosul.
Shith said the jihadists were “losing their temper and becoming more brutal and cruel to the local inhabitants” in Mosul.
ISIS reportedly executed eight of its militants on May 20th, burning them alive for deserting their positions in the town of Rutba in Iraq’s western Anbar province, allowing the Iraqi Army to recapture it.
In chat messages with The Arab Weekly in Erbil, a University of Mosul professor who locked herself in her home for several months to avoid contact with ISIS, said Iraqi Army helicopters dropped thousands of flyers over the city and surrounding areas advising civilians about how to act during the looming confrontations.
“The flyers recommended to parents not to allow their children to go to school and to stay away from ISIS locations because these places were potential targets for the Iraqi air forces,” said the professor, who asked to be identified as Manal.
She said the flyers informed civilians that the army would notify them later of safe areas they can head to once the military offensive starts.
On May 1st, Mosul Eye reported some internet service providers shut down in the city over concerns that ISIS might obtain lists of their customers or ask the firms to spy on clients. However, as an alternative, ISIS depends on internet service providers across the city run by loyalists who are usually kept in the dark on the militants’ plans, according to residents knowledgeable about communications in Mosul.
As Iraqi forces advanced in Anbar province, ISIS moved quickly to ban satellite TV reception so residents would remain oblivious to Iraqi Army victories in other areas of the country.
Manal said ISIS declared that residents who keep satellite dishes on their rooftops would be arrested.