Mosul IS siege: The truth about just how barbarous it was

  • 15/07/2017

Warning: This story contains graphic images that may disturb some viewers.

Iraqi troops are being accused of committing acts of savage retribution in the city they just recaptured from Islamic State (IS).

Images show the desperate state of those found in the ruins, and the brutal fate that awaits some of them.

IS has been driven, shot and pulverised from Mosul's old city centre, largely by months of international aerial bombardment.

It is far from an empty victory, but the price has been high - buildings, yes, but lives and families have been torn apart.

Millions in international aid have already been promised to bring Mosul back. It was a city of 600,000 before the days of the IS caliphate.

Residents are now staggering out from tunnels and cellars that had become the only refuge left. The men were half naked to prove they were not suicide bombers to the Iraqi soldiers.

But who are they? Innocents caught up? Or the loyalist families of IS left in the old city centre? Nobody really knows. Suspicion hangs in the blistering heat and dust of Mosul.

Iraqi forces apparently filmed themselves beating suspected IS prisoners. The two men were forced out of a building. Seconds later they were thrown off a cliff and shot, where they hit the ground below.

Aziz Falah is the self-declared butcher of Mosul, a paramilitary police officer who tells a Swedish newspaper he has beheaded 50 suspected IS prisoners of war. It appears he has videos and photographs to prove it.

Human rights groups and journalists verify a growing number of atrocities being committed by Iraqi forces. The Iraqi government says anyone involved will be brought to justice and it will investigate them all.

The final pockets of IS resistance are being overcome, but in truth the job has largely been done from the air. The logic has been slow, simple and effective - denying IS the space to fight by destroying and reducing to rubble all possible cover and firing points.

Endless video of Iraqi forces shows them firing heavily in the vaguest direction of IS, but hardly ever seems to show anybody firing any aimed rounds at identified targets. Nonetheless, the brass are now on hand to offer praise and thanks to their men on the ground.

"We are at the last point of Special Forces operations," says Brigadier Abdul Mohamed. "Only a few pockets of resistance remain. We'll finish it all soon."

Back south in Baghdad on Tahrir Square, it is party time - and why not? The menace of IS has gone from Mosul as a conventional military threat, fading too perhaps the dismal fact that it was the Iraqi Army that ran away from IS in the first place, allowing all this to happen and beginning a three-year war. But the price of salvaging that battered reputation has been the obliteration of central Mosul.

Channel 4