Iraq News

ISIL faces growing popular resistance near Mosul

By Khalid al-Taie

Iraqi forces push north after liberating the city of al-Qayyara. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Unit]

Iraqi forces push north after liberating the city of al-Qayyara. [Photo courtesy of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Unit]

After two years of suffering under the harsh rule of the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), residents of Hamam al-Alil district south of Mosul have been rising up against the group, local officials tell Diyaruna.

At the end of August, after Iraqi forces liberated al-Qayyara to the district's south, Hamam al-Alil residents began to step up the number of retaliatory attacks they carried out against the group's fighters.

In response, ISIL has cracked down on district residents, rounding up dozens and detaining or persecuting them at random, local officials said.

Uprising against ISIL

"Following its resounding defeat in al-Qayyara, ISIL is today facing an uprising of the local residents, who have been encouraged by the army's victories to take up arms and stand up to the terrorists," said Ninawa provincial council security committee head Mohammed Ibrahim.

"Angry residents started to respond to ISIL in kind for the crimes and abuses it has committed against them over the last two years," he told Diyaruna.

At the end of August, rebelling residents staged a series of armed attacks targeting ISIL gatherings that left six of the group's fighters dead, he said, sparking harsh reprisal from ISIL.

Ibrahim said he believes "the security forces' gradual progress towards Hamam al-Alil will strengthen the residents' uprising and turn it into an overwhelming mass rage, as happened in al-Qayyara".

In al-Qayyara, he said, angry residents torched ISIL bases and hunted down the group's fighters as the first military units entered their city.

"We expect that scene of revolt to repeat itself," he said. "The people of Hamam al-Alil will soon celebrate with their brothers in the army the liberation of their area, and the Iraqi flag will fly high above its buildings and homes."

"At the same time, all necessary precautionary measures should be taken to prevent the terrorists from carrying out any acts of revenge against the population and public property," Ibrahim said.

Strong support for Iraqi forces

The people of Hamam al-Alil district are fully prepared to support the liberating forces, said district director Khalaf al-Jabouri.

"All citizens are ready today to provide support to the army and police forces, and the district could be seeing a wide-scale popular revolution when the liberating forces arrive," he told Diyaruna.

The population has suffered bitterly at the hands of ISIL, he said, as evidenced by the new slogans that appear on walls in the city each day, denouncing the group's actions and vowing revenge.

These include phrases such as "your day is near" and "death to ISIL", he added.

"People are waiting for the army to come in order to launch their great revolt against the terrorists," al-Jabouri said.

At present, he estimated, there are just a few dozen ISIL elements controlling the district, as most others "have either been killed in the fighting to liberate al-Qayyara or fled to the city of Mosul".

ISIL's waning power

"Those remaining ISIL men can no longer set up checkpoints in the area as they are too few and too afraid of becoming a visible target for the Iraqi army and international coalition warplanes," he said.

It will take just a few hours for the Iraqi army to arrive in the district from al-Qayyara, al-Jabouri said, noting that it is following "a well designed military plan".

"The general situation in Hamam al-Alil is heating up, since the residents there are fed up with living under ISIL's control and want to break free from this nightmare quickly," said Ninawa provincial council member Ali Khudair.

"I am sure that as soon as the army arrives there, the locals will teach the ISIL men a lesson they will not forget and decide the battle to liberate their city in a short time and with minimal losses," he told Diyaruna.

"In my opinion, ISIL is today a thing of the past, as it has lost most of the areas and cities it had occupied, as well as its finest fighters and field commanders, and no longer has any significant power on the ground," Khudair said.

"Its end is just a matter of time."

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