Thursday, June 8, 2017

As the battle comes to a conclusion, ISIS steps up war crimes in Mosul.

Western Mosul. AFP. 

ISIS has killed at least 231 civilians who were attempting to flee the battle in Mosul, Iraq. BBC. At least 204 have been shot, which the UN calls a "significant increase". There are around 1000 ISIS fighters still trapped in the Old City of Mosul and the surrounding districts. 100,000 civilians are trapped there with them. In one incident last week, 163 civilians were shot near an abandoned Pepsi factory and left unburied. Many of the murdered are people trying to flee to Iraqi front lines and safety. ISIS wants civilians to stay so they can use them as human shields against Iraqi and US airstrikes. 

My Comment:
The Battle of Mosul continues to rage, even though it isn't getting much press. ISIS terror attacks and the various attempts to undermine President Trump are dominating the news right now. What is happening in Mosul is a major story and one that deserves coverage. 

Though ISIS's terrorist attacks have gotten the headlines, the massacres they have committed in Iraq have probably led to more deaths. Though attacks like Manchester, London and Tehran were spectacular, they hardly killed anyone. The attacks on civilians have killed hundreds and I have a feeling that many of the 100,000 civilians still trapped in Mosul won't be making it out. 

The slaughter is nothing new. ISIS has been killing people in Mosul since the beginning of the battle. They have also used civilians as a human shield for the entirety of their existence. It hasn't help them win any battles but it does seem to make the battles last a bit better. The number of killings does seem to be going up though. 

Why? Because ISIS is losing the battle. They have essentially no chance of ever escaping from Mosul. They only control a small patch of the old city and a few of the outlying districts. Beyond that it is a long way to other ISIS controlled territory. Those areas themselves, near Tal-Afar and al-Hawijah are also isolated from the main ISIS forces located in Syria and the Iraqi border. Even if ISIS had the men and desire to relieve Mosul, they would have to cross quite a bit of territory to do so. In short, it's not going to happen. 

With no hope of rescue and reluctant to surrender for ideological reasons, the ISIS fighters left in Mosul will be making their last stand. To do so they need the civilians. Those civilians are a major shield against US and Iraqi airstrikes. Though our new president is less concerned about civilian causalities, reducing them is still a huge priority for the United States. If it wasn't for the 100,000 civilians trapped in Mosul, we could just flatten the cities and then clean up the surviving ISIS fighters. 

With the civilians acting as a human shield, we will have to fight slower and without our heaviest weapons. Airstrikes will have to be used very carefully and heavy artillery can't be used much at all. Fighting will have to be house to house with occasional airstrikes on specific targets. ISIS knows this and that is why they are killing people who flee. Killing the people that flee will encourage the rest to stay, plus it spreads terror to the rest of the world. 

The problem for ISIS is that they are also cut off from food and other supplies. I have heard other reports that people are already on the brink of starvation in Mosul's old city. Though I have no doubt that ISIS fighters are getting first access to food, eventually everyone will run out. People will panic and both ISIS fighters and civilians will try to flee. When that happens the battle will have to end. Either that or everyone starves...

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