Islamic State executes 58 in Mosul suspected of plotting to switch sides
BAGHDAD: Islamic State (IS) has crushed a rebellion plot in Mosul, led by one of the group’s commanders who aimed to switch sides and help deliver the caliphate’s Iraqi capital to government forces, say residents and Iraqi security officials.
IS executed 58 people suspected of taking part in the plot after it was uncovered last week. Residents, speaking from some of the few locations in the city that have phone service, said the plotters had been killed by drowning and their bodies buried in a mass grave in a wasteland on the outskirts of the city.
Among them was a local aide of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who led the plotters, according to matching accounts given by residents to Hisham al-Hashimi, an expert on IS affairs that advises the government in Baghdad.
The aim of the plotters was to undermine Islamic State’s defence of Mosul in the coming fight, expected to be the biggest battle in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion.
Mosul is the last major stronghold of Islamic State in Iraq. With a prewar population of around 2 million, it is at least five times the size of any other city IS has controlled.
Iraqi officials say a massive ground assault could begin this month, backed by US air power, Kurdish security forces and Shi’ite and Sunni irregular units.
A successful offensive would effectively destroy the Iraqi half of the caliphate that the group declared when it swept through northern Iraq in 2014. But the UN says it could also create the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world, in a worst case scenario uprooting 1 million people.
Islamic State fighters are dug in to defend the city and have a history of using civilians as human shields when defending territory.
According to Hashimi, the dissidents were arrested after one of them was caught with a message on his phone mentioning a transfer of weapons. He confessed during interrogation that the weapons were to be used in a rebellion to support the Iraqi army. – Reuters