ISIS executions and wanton murders in Mosul on Thursday may be aimed to claim media attention following a week of costly defeats on the battlefield across Central and Northern Iraq.
As reported by multiple sources May 18, 25 men in Mosul were executed by suspending their bodies by ropes and dropping them into corrosive vats of nitric acid as a punishment for collaborating with Iraqi Security Forces.
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Later on May 19, a 12-year-old Christian girl in Mosul was burned alive in her home because her mother hesitated to pay the Jizya tax, a special tax only non-Muslims must pay to ISIS, according to Britain’s Daily Mail. The girl’s mother and a younger sibling escaped the blaze set by the ISIS cadre. The girl was taken out of the burning house and died in her mother’s arms, according to the report.
Such cruelty follows one week of three straight days of suicide bombings in Baghdad, which took the lives of more than 100 civilians and wounded hundreds more.
The conclusion of Iraq’s Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan was that ISIS must demonstrate in terror what it cannot win on the battlefield, hence its decision to unleash on soft targets.
U.S. military spokesmen report that ISIS today controls as little as 45 percent of the Iraqi territory it held in August 2014 and as little as 20 percent of its territory in Syria. Complicating its situation is that ISIS revenues from illicit oil sales are down by two-thirds, and its influx of new jihadist soldiers has slipped from 2,000 a month to about 200 a month, according to the officials.
On Friday, ISIS fighters were on the run in western Anbar Province and launching reckless attacks to hold their perimeter around the city of Mosul.
The Iraqi Army and Shia-dominant Peoples’ Mobilization Units (PMUs) have surrounded the Sunni city of Fallujah, 50 miles west of Baghdad, and are preparing to kill or capture the estimated 800 ISIS fighters in control of 50,000 residents there. Coalition aircraft and the Iraqi Air Force have begun frequent air strikes in Fallujah that target IED factories and ISIS safehouses. The city has been a stronghold of jihadist fervor since al Qaeda in Iraq wrested the city from Coalition control in 2004 and resisted efforts to retake the city for months.
A spokesman for the Fallujah District Council said the liberation of Rutba, a road junction further west from Fallujah, helps cut off ISIS supply lines, close the Iraq-Syria border, and accelerate the liberation of Fallujah, Daesh Daily reports. Shia militia units in the chain of command of the Iraqi Army will participate in the clearing of Fallujah as they did in recovering the city of Ramadi. In fact, more than five Shia militia brigades, including Shia tribal militia, are joining forces with the Iraqi Army to reconquer the city, which many of them believe has been a suicide-bomb assembly point for terrorist attacks in Baghdad. The Iraqi Air Force has dropped thousands of leaflets into the city urging the populace to cooperate with Iraqi Security forces.
The hatred between the Sunni population and the Shia government in Baghdad is longstanding and difficult to reverse. The military forces under Prime Minister Haider Abadi will be challenged to restrain the militia troops from taking revenge.
ISIS supply lines to Anbar were cut in the second week of May when Iraqi Security Forces cleared ISIS out of a road junction at Rutbah, 70 miles from the Jordanian border, a crossroads between the road from Baghdad to Amman and the Mosul to Haifa pipeline. Iraqi ordinance specialists recently discovered in Rutbah two IED factories, a vehicle bomb factory, and between 70 and 300 IEDs secured in six booby-trapped houses.
The city of 22,000 Sunni Muslims has been almost entirely relocated to internally displaced persons camps. The editors of Daesh Daily speculated that some of the ISIS fighters have left Rutbah posing as IDPs themselves.
Haditha and Baghdadi, also in Anbar, have courageously resisted ISIS attacks for two years, Daesh Daily reports.
Further north, in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains, ISIS units are trying to delay the noose Coalition Forces have drawn around Iraq’s second largest city. An Iraqi security source says the Peshmerga, supported by Coalition warplanes, stopped a Daesh attack this week on Aski Mosul, a Tigris River village approximately five miles northwest of Mosul, killing four suicide bombers wearing explosive vests and destroying three vehicle bombs. ISIS’s version claims four of its terrorists detonated their explosive vests, taking the lives of several Peshmerga, and that the rest of their fighters returned safely.
Iraqi military sources reported March 19 that Coalition aircraft killed the new ISIS military leader, or "wali", of South Mosul in a strike on his car north of Qayara. Daesh Daily’s comment: "Don’t say yes if Daesh offers you a job as a ‘wali.’ It is not a promotion but a death sentence."
The purpose of ISIS attacks on the Tigris River may have been less strategic than symbolic, according to retired Brig. Gen. Ernie Audino, who was embedded with the Peshmerga in 2006. "The attacks on Peshmerga at Kasik may not seem rational to some, but it could be perfectly logical to the Jihadist mind. It can be seen by them as a demonstration of continuing will to resist. The ISIS troops want to show that they still have game," Audino told the Washington Free Beacon.