Mosul be­comes ‘grave­yard’ for for­eign ji­hadists

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The de­cay­ing bodies of for­eign ji­hadists are pil­ing up among the ru­ins of Mosul where the last few dozen Is­lamic State group fight­ers are mount­ing a des­per­ate last stand. More than three quar­ters of the re­main­ing ji­hadists in Mosul are for­eign­ers, ac­cord­ing to Iraqi com­man­ders who have re­ported a spike in sui­cide at­tacks as anti-IS forces close in on the Old City. “They never sur­ren­der,” said Gen­eral Ab­del Ghani Al-As­sadi, a com­man­der in Iraq’s elite Counter-Terrorism Ser­vice.

“Old Mosul will be their grave­yard.” It was in Mosul in July 2014 that IS supremo Abu Bakr Al-Bagh­dadi made his only pub­lic ap­pear­ance, to urge Mus­lims world­wide to move to his “caliphate”, pro­claimed less than a week ear­lier, strad­dling Iraq and Syria. Thou­sands of for­eign­ers re­sponded to his call. Ac­cord­ing to Iraqi po­lice and army com­man­ders, most of the for­eign IS fight­ers still in Mosul in re­cent months came from Rus­sia, par­tic­u­larly Chech­nya, and other for­mer Soviet bloc coun­tries, as well as var­i­ous Arab states.

Iraqi ji­hadists flee

Then come Mus­lims from Asia-Afghans, Pak­ista­nis, Uighurs from China-as well as Euro­peans from France, Ger­many, Bel­gium and Bri­tain, along with Amer­i­cans, the same sources said. They are also be­lieved to in­clude a few dozen ji­hadists from other French-speak­ing coun­tries. “Most of them come from coun­tries such as Al­ge­ria, Morocco or Tu­nisia,” said Gen­eral Ab­bas Al-Jabouri, a com­man­der of the po­lice Rapid Re­sponse force. Pale, hun­gry civil­ians who man­aged to es­cape from the Old City de­scribed the for­eign fight­ers as cruel men who de­tained them in houses, many of which were bombed out.

When Iraqi forces launched an as­sault on the Old City on June 18, for­eign­ers ac­counted for only 20 per­cent of the 1,200 ji­hadists iden­ti­fied at the time, ac­cord­ing to army of­fi­cers. But most Iraqi ji­hadists have fled by min­gling in with the flood of civil­ians flee­ing the Old City. The army says many were ar­rested, but of­fi­cers pri­vately es­ti­mate that sev­eral hun­dred were able to slip through the cracks.

For­eign­ers though would be “ar­rested im­me­di­ately” dur­ing exit screen­ing, says Lieu­tenant Colonel Haider Hus­sein, in­stantly rec­og­niz­able be­cause of their poor grasp of Iraqi Ara­bic. An Iraqi of­fi­cer is more blunt: “When we see them, we kill them”. In May, the Wall Street Jour­nal re­ported that France had asked Iraq to hunt down and elim­i­nate 27 French ji­hadists in Mosul to pre­vent them re­turn­ing to Europe. France, as well as the Iraqi com­man­ders, de­nied the ex­is­tence of such a list.

But As­sadi said: “All IS fight­ers who do not sur­ren­der must be killed, what­ever their na­tion­al­ity.” Ac­cord­ing to sev­eral Iraqi of­fi­cers, Western in­tel­li­gence ser­vices take DNA sam­ples from the bodies of ji­hadists. At the be­gin­ning of the bat­tle, eight months ago, the ji­hadists pre­ferred am­bushes, snipers and car bombs. Then, in the nar­row streets of the Old City, they sent more and more sui­cide bombers. In the last ar­eas where they are now en­trenched, some­times with their fam­i­lies, “they wait in the houses, and when our forces en­ter, they open fire or blow them­selves up,” said Hus­sein. “That’s the only strat­egy they have left.” — AFP

— AFP

MOSUL: A pic­ture shows a gen­eral view of the dam­age in the old city of Mosul as Iraqi gov­ern­ment forces con­tinue to fight Is­lamic State (IS) group ji­hadists to re­take the last parts of the city. The de­cay­ing bodies of for­eign ji­hadists are pil­ing up among the ru­ins of Mosul where the last dozens of Is­lamic State group fight­ers are mount­ing a des­per­ate last stand.

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