Life under Islamic State revealed in Mosul battle

  • 31/10/2016
The Iraqi army (Getty/File)
The Iraqi army (Getty/File)

As Iraqi federal policemen make gains in their fight against Islamic State (IS), they have discovered an insight into what living under IS would be like.

Policemen found the corpse of an Islamic State suicide bomber lying in a street, covered by a curtain.

The chain attached to his ankle was tied to a car that had dragged him through streets, they said, that were once part of a self-proclaimed jihadist caliphate.

Nearby policemen fired AK-47 assault rifles in the air to mark their victory in Shura, one of dozens of villages captured as Iraqi forces press on with an offensive towards the nearby city of Mosul, the militants' main stronghold in the country.

But celebrations were mixed with apprehension as security forces searched for clues on what makes the world's most violent and feared Islamist militant group tick.

Foreign fighters who occupied the town included Yemenis and Saudis, senior police officers said.

Chechen militants also controlled the village. They are some of the most feared IS members because they are seen as the most fanatic and experienced.

One police officer saved a photograph he took of an official IS document granting a Chechen militant leave for three days.

IS' initial appeal was its ability to function as a state that provided better services than Arab governments widely seen as corrupt, so the group did its best in places like Shura to demonstrate that it is running a self-sufficient caliphate.

On a wall in the village is a huge sign urging people to use a complaint line to report anyone who is out of order.

"Dial landline 731007," said the sign, beside another one that states IS warriors fight for the people. Policemen also pointed to documents that require people to switch their Iraqi identification cards to IS ones.

A newsletter that had been distributed presents strict guidelines on beard length, and it also urges Muslims to give to charities.

Federal policemen are part of the forces pressing ahead with an offensive to recapture Mosul from IS, in what will likely be the biggest battle in Iraq since a US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Even if IS loses, Iraq faces the daunting challenge of making sure the assault on the predominantly Sunni Muslim city does not inflame sectarian tensions.

The top commander in the Shura area, Staff Major Hayman Abbas, was cautiously optimistic about seizing more villages and towns, even after his men killed seven suicide bombers in two days.