A report released by the United Nations last week sheds light on a more precise human toll that the Islamic State took on the civilians of Mosul before their ouster earlier this year.
The report describes in great detail the total disregard ISIS had for the civilian inhabitants of Mosul, as well as the infrastructure and historical landmarks which compose the ancient city. Specifically, the U.N. says ISIS executed at least 741 civilians during the fight to retake Mosul alone.
In addition to littering the city with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), shelling, and shooting civilians that were seen fleeing Mosul, ISIS announced on loudspeakers that any civilians found to be in areas newly liberated by Iraqi forces would then become legitimate targets themselves, as they were not actively resisting Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
Other instances of wanton and barbaric cruelty are described in the way ISIS rounded up thousands of people to use them as human shields, and intentionally seeding civilian structures with hundreds of IEDs to target people returning to their homes. There are also reports that they rigged children with suicide explosive vests to engage ISF as they cleared the Hamdaniya subdistrict of Mosul.
The number of civilians executed during the Battle of Mosul are in addition to the numerous mass graves unearthed by ISF and coalition forces, which have been found to contain anywhere from a few bodies to thousands.
In keeping with the destructive tradition of their spiritual cousins, the Taliban, ISIS also targeted historical landmarks, leading to their destruction of the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul’s Old City. The mosque was built in the 12th century, and had been revered by jihadists as a symbol of dominance over Shia Islam. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi used the al-Nuri Mosque to make his now infamous speech in 2014 announcing the formation of the “caliphate” that was the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. There is controversy over who really caused the mosque’s destruction, but Iraqi government forces have since released video showing the mosque being destroyed in what appears to be a controlled detonation carried out by ISIS. That supports other reports from citizens in Mosul who report that IS fighters had tried to destroy the mosque at other times during their years in control of the city.
Read the entire report here.
Image courtesy of Mstyslav Chernov via Wikipedia