‘Radio war’ prepares for recapture of Mosul

Sunday 05/06/2016
Iraqi soldiers working at radio station at Makhmur, Iraq

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.