Iraqi troops lis­ten in on IS walkie-talkies in Mo­sul

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

“Two grooms are com­ing,” a low voice crack­les over the walkie-talkie, prompt­ing a lanky Iraqi spe­cial forces sol­dier lis­ten­ing in Mo­sul to shout: “Boys! They’ve just dis­patched two sui­cide bombers!” The small walkie-talkie that Iraq’s elite Counter-Ter­ror­ism Ser­vice seized from an Is­lamic State group mem­ber in Mo­sul last week has proven price­less in their drive for Iraq’s sec­ond city. All day, mem­bers of the CTS’s Mo­sul and Na­jaf reg­i­ments take turns clutch­ing the de­vice up to their ears to in­ter­cept com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween ji­hadists in the city, the last one IS holds in Iraq.

They try to de­ci­pher IS codes and pick up where ex­actly mil­i­tants are po­si­tioned in nearby neigh­bor­hoods. “Last week, we saw a man trans­port­ing some goods on his mo­tor­cy­cle in this neigh­bor­hood, and we sus­pected him of be­ing an IS mem­ber,” said Staff Lieu­tenant Colonel Mun­tad­har Salem, head of the CTS’s Mo­sul reg­i­ment. He raised his voice to a near-yell so he could be heard over the in­com­ing and out­go­ing mor­tar fire in Mo­sul’s east­ern Al-Samah neigh­bor­hood as he re­lated how the walkie-talkie was ob­tained.

“I saw he had this walkie-talkie clipped to his shirt, so we took it from him and kept it,” Salem said, re­fus­ing to elab­o­rate on what happened to the man, whose name was ap­par­ently Abu Yusef. “Some­one on the other end was call­ing ‘Abu Yusef, Abu Yusef,’ and Abu Yusef wasn’t an­swer­ing,” he chuck­led. The battle to re­take Mo­sul is now in its fourth week, and CTS forces have been at the fore­front of the as­sault on the city’s east, push­ing IS back from sev­eral neigh­bor­hoods. But there are still weeks, if not months, of fight­ing still to go.

Keep Tabs on IS Moves

Five IS walkie-talkies have been seized so far in Mo­sul and divvied up among var­i­ous CTS reg­i­ments so that each can keep con­stant tabs on IS move­ments. The Na­jaf reg­i­ment was the unit that fig­ured out ref­er­ences to grooms in­di­cated in­com­ing sui­cide at­tack­ers. “It’s be­cause they be­lieve they’ll go to heaven and marry many women,” scoffed Staff Lieu­tenant Colonel Ali Fad­hel, com­man­der of the reg­i­ment which has been mon­i­tor­ing Abu Yusef’s walkie-talkie this week. “They haven’t changed their chan­nels, which means they haven’t fig­ured out that we’re lis­ten­ing,” Fad­hel said.

Two of his fight­ers - Ahmed and Mo­hammed - are on walkie-talkie duty. Brows fur­rowed, the de­vice sand­wiched be­tween them, they crouch out­side the two­s­torey house that CTS forces have made their base in Al-Samah. “That was an ac­cent from Mo­sul, but some­times you hear Al­ge­rian or Moroc­can ac­cents,” Mo­hammed said. A voice speaks up from the walkie-talkie: “Hus­sam? Hus­sam?” Ahmed rolls his eyes, ex­plain­ing that much of his time lis­ten­ing is spent wait­ing for valu­able in­for­ma­tion or try­ing to make sure he doesn’t lose the sig­nal.

“But some­times they re­veal which neigh­bor­hoods they’re in and which weapons they’re go­ing to use against us - whether mor­tars, rock­ets, snipers, or car bombs,” he said. Ahmed - who first warned about the two in­com­ing sui­cide bombers - called out to his com­rades just a hun­dred me­ters ahead, giv­ing the po­si­tion of IS fight­ers. “AlQahira! They’re be­tween Al-Qahira and Tahrir!” CTS mem­bers started fir­ing mor­tar rounds to­wards the Tahrir area as Ahmed pressed the walkie-talkie back up to his ear once more. — AFP

MO­SUL: A sol­dier from the Iraqi Spe­cial Forces 2nd di­vi­sion lis­tens to the walki­etalkie as forces en­gage Is­lamic State fight­ers push­ing through the east­ern Samah area and into the Arba­giah neigh­bor­hood on Fri­day. — AFP

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