Iraq News

Advancing troops embolden resistance to ISIL inside Mosul

By Khalid al-Taie

The letter "M" for muqawama (resistance) is scrawled on al-Zuhoor middle school in Mosul. [Photo courtesy of the Ninawa Centre for Information]

The letter "M" for muqawama (resistance) is scrawled on al-Zuhoor middle school in Mosul. [Photo courtesy of the Ninawa Centre for Information]

Grassroots resistance groups battling the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) inside Mosul are gathering force, disrupting the group's operations and targeting its leadership, local officials tell Diyaruna.

Groups such as the Mosul Liberation Cells have been a thorn in ISIL's side since it took over the northern Iraqi city in 2014, they say, but the pace of their attacks has quickened and these groups have become emboldened with the approach of Iraqi forces.

As of Tuesday (November 1st), Iraqi forces have liberated dozens of villages on the outskirts of Mosul and pushed into the outer limits of the city.

"ISIL is collapsing," said Abu Omar, a commander with the Mosul Liberation Cells using a pseudonym to protect his identity. "We are fighting them in every neighbourhood in Mosul and the army is waiting for them outside the city."

"This is the end for them," he said.

Campaign 'M'

"Our cells are but a part of a larger resistance group against the terrorist group, ISIL, inside the city," he said, adding that his group is battling ISIL alongside the Mosul Liberation Brigades and al-Nabi Younus Brigades.

Abu Omar said his group has carried out attacks on ISIL, but its focus has been on "psychological warfare, mobilisation and providing intelligence".

The group has provided the liberating forces with intelligence information regarding the location of numerous ISIL hideouts and gatherings, he said, "and the Iraqi air force and international coalition have destroyed them".

"Our mobilisation campaign targeting local residents is still ongoing," he said. "We called this campaign 'M'", which is the first letter of the word resistance [muqawama in Arabic].

Resistance groups inscribed this letter on several buildings, in addition to raising the Iraqi flag above them, he said, adding that these actions enraged ISIL "and emboldened locals to resist and confront them".

Grassroots resistance groups in Mosul have targeted ISIL in many ways this year, he said, revealing that "there have been more than 300 operations varying between sniper attacks and operations targeting ISIL’s foot and vehicle patrols".

These acts of resistance have included arson attacks against the group's headquarters, he said, adding that around 200 ISIL fighters have been killed in these attacks, including foreign commanders and unit leaders.

Of the current situation inside Mosul, Abu Omar said between 6,000 and 8,000 ISIL fighters are in Mosul, roughly 70% of whom are local fighters.

Despite ISIL's current turmoil, he said, the group's elements are continuing to commit heinous crimes against unarmed civilians and to impose levies by force.

"The city is in bad shape," he said.

'Big surprises' for ISIL

Abu Omar called on local and international media to highlight "the resistance and sacrifices of the people of Mosul".

"Our city has not stayed silent in the face of terrorist rule," he said. "Right from the beginning, it has chosen the path of resistance, offering many martyrs and soon, victory will prevail."

Resistance in Mosul began immediately after ISIL overran the city and has not waned since, said Duraid Hikmat, an adviser to the mayor of Mosul.

"In the beginning, al-Nabi Younus Brigades were the only ones operating on the ground," he told Diyaruna. "Now there are several movements and factions all of which have one goal: to resist the terrorists."

Their methods vary, however, he said, "as some have chosen to be armed, while others opted for intelligence gathering, psychological warfare and popular mobilisation. Other groups have resorted to a combination".

With the start of the battle for Mosul, these resistance groups have expanded and intensified their operations, he said, opening an internal front with ISIL.

"As usual, the terrorists have resorted to deception by releasing videos that show life in Mosul is normal, but it is the complete opposite," Hikmat said, adding that ISIL elements are fearful of the military advancement.

Ninawa provincial council member Ali Khudhair told Diyaruna the battle for Mosul holds "big surprises" in terms of popular resistance to ISIL.

"People harbour deep resentment towards ISIL," he said.

"Some big surprises might await us as soon as the fighting comes into the neighbourhoods, maybe a massive revolution that decimates the last of ISIL," he said, pointing out that al-Qayyarah residents rose up against the group , and the people of Mosul will do the same.

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