Saturday, April 8, 2017

ISIS is killing civilians in Mosul to keep them from fleeing and is using them as human shields.

Iraqi civilians at a refugee camp near Mosul. Stars and Stripes. 

ISIS is killing civilians in Mosul who are trying to flee the battle. Stars and Stripes. Kurdish authorities claim that ISIS has killed 140 civilians in Mosul and have gone so far as to hang their bodies from electrical poles as a deterrent to others. As the five month long battle in Mosul continues, ISIS has begun to use civilians as human shields. ISIS not only can exploit US and Iraqi reluctance to target positions with civilians present, they can use any deaths caused in the battle as a propaganda tool against the West. Iraqi and coalition partners are debating whether they should slow the offensive in an effort to reduce the short term civilian casualties or to keep the pace up in an effort to win the battle quicker therefore reducing longer term civilian casualties. 

My Comment:
ISIS has used this tactic before and it seems to be having a decent effect propaganda wise. What little anti-war hysteria left in the west has been focused on a major incident that killed scores of civilians in Mosul. While their is some doubt if it was an airstrike that killed those people, or if it was ISIS IED's or some combination of both, there is no doubt that scores of people died. It was very bad press for the Iraqis and the Coalition and a good example of what can happen when civilians are in a combat zone. 

And this story shows that civilian deaths are very likely to continue. ISIS is deliberately putting these people in harms way. And it is working as well. Stars and Stripes is one of the only news outlets, other than local Kurdish sources, that is covering this story. Compare that to all the dozens of articles about the incident in Mosul where scores of people died. People aren't hearing about ISIS's role in this disaster and instead people are thinking that US airstrikes are just being launched recklessly. They don't know that ISIS is murdering people to keep them in harms way. 

The fact that ISIS is willing to out and out murder civilians to keep them in the city shows how important this tactic is for them. Though there are benefits of a reign of terror the downside is that people can grow tired of it and begin to form resistance.I have no idea if there is anyone left in Mosul that is willing to fight, but if there is I am guessing they will want to do so for sure now. There is no better time for those trapped in Mosul to fight back. 

That being said though, it seems as though the reign of terror is working. People are afraid to flee and are being held hostage by ISIS. Those that try are getting killed. They are either being executed and displayed or they are shot and killed as they flee. Many are making it out but I think there are a lot of people that are choosing a possible death in an airstrike over a much more certain death at the hands of ISIS. 

Again, this shows how important those civilians are to ISIS. They must be running low on ammo and other supplies and you would think that letting these people go instead of shooting them would help them a great deal. Not only would they save ammo they would lift the burden of feeding and caring for these people and thrust that burden onto the Iraqis. The fact that they aren't shows how critical ISIS views holding onto these civilians is. 

Why? Well I think that ISIS knows that there is only a few things that can save their Caliphate in Iraq and Syria. The first is instability, which got a boost due to the cruise missile strikes in Syria this week. Iraq though is reasonably stable and the only way they can win there is if they push the Americans and other coalition partners out of the war. They can not do that militarily, but they might be able to do it though propaganda. 

After all, it was the anti-war movement that allowed ISIS to rise in the first place, partially at least. Though Obama left Iraq for many reasons, the fact that his leftist allies wanted a full withdrawal from Iraq. Donald Trump is a lot less susceptible to those pressures, though there are a lot of anti-war Trump supporters, but even he has to bow to public pressure if people get sick and tired of hearing about civilian casualties in Mosul and the rest of Iraq. I think it's a very slim thread that ISIS is grasping at since I think very few people actually care about what is happening in Mosul, but it's probably their best chance at victory in Mosul, short of divine intervention.  

Of course, ISIS is committing a war crime in Mosul. That should be no surprise considering their whole existence has been a crime. I have said it before but ISIS is evil incarnate. They have no redeeming factors whatsoever. It really says something though that murdering civilians for fleeing combat areas and using them as human shields doesn't even rank in the top five most horrible things ISIS has done. I sincerely hope that ISIS is defeated in Mosul and that we can save as many of these people as possible. 

Finally, I do want to point out the debate that the Iraqi and Coalition commanders are having right now is one that I have an opinion on. I have always said that it is worth a few civilian casualties if you win the battle at a much quicker rate. Though we should always do whatever we can to reduce casualties, it's not worth it to save 100 lives if the battle lasts a month longer and kills 10,000 more. I personally think that the Iraqis should keep fighting as quickly as they can and we should not allow our concern about civilians to trump all other concerns...  

No comments:

Post a Comment