Explaining ISIS’ current state in a CNN interview, Secretary of State John Kerry summed it up succinctly.
“They are shrinking … They are on the run,” he said.
Seeing how much its territory has shrunk and its financial assets decimated, the above statement may very well be the case. However, there still exists a number of ISIS strongholds that have yet to experience liberation from the jihadists.
Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, is one of these remaining ISIS bastions. With a population around 600,000, many civilians living in the city have experienced first-hand since 2014 what it feels like to be a citizen of the self-proclaimed caliphate.
One of these Mosul civilians managed to reach out to an anonymous Jordanian religious scholar and illustrate the morale of the captured city.
The Intercept and Al Jazeera reports his harrowing account:
“While Mosul is under siege and a war against it is looming in the horizon, the people there have lost trust in everything that comes from ISIL. They even are reluctant to pick up arms to defend the city because of mistreatment and harassment they have been subjected to. We even started hearing those who are saying: it does not matter any more who comes and take over Mosul. [ISIL’s] behaviour and aggression against the residents of Mosul and their capturing and enslaving women from others faiths has turned people away from them …”
The Mosul resident also detailed what the living conditions were like:
“Remarkably, while all this is taking place, ISIS couldn’t care less about the people or how they feel or what they are going through. Every Friday during the prayer sermon, their preachers insult the local population and attack them for not going off to Jihad with them and accuse them of being cowards and hypocrites. Their [morality police] is manned by young men and teenagers who insult and attack older and grown men. These young teenagers often issue tickets and fines to elderly men because they for example shaved some of their beards off, even though people barely have money to eat let alone have any to pay imposed fines. They also often yell at women because they slightly showed their faces or eyes from under their veils.”
Amidst reports of a secret group that was allegedly assassinating ISIS members within the walls of the city, things seem to be in disarray for the crumbling state. Working in conjunction with coalition forces, organisations such as the Mosul Battalion have claimed to provide intelligence and coordinates of ISIS positions for airstrikes and set up roadside bombs at ISIS’ checkpoints — all while coalition forces make their final preparations for the offensive to liberate the city.
That sentiment is also being felt by the ISIS militants as well. USA TODAY reported in July that as the offensive was being prepared, the jihadists were placed on the “highest alert.” In preparing for their stand, the militants had sent their own wives and children to Syria and Turkey — an act that according to the above mentioned Mosul resident was forbidden for ordinary civilians.
“We hope within the next few months we’re going to kick Daesh out of Mosul,” said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi after meeting with President Barack Obama in New York. “They must be crushed on the ground.”
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