As Iraqi forces prepare to enter Mosul for the first time in two years, the leader of ISIS sends out a message to ISIS fighters. The US backed coalition is making advances in the operation to retake Mosul in Iraq. Mosul is the second most important city to the Islamic State and has been under its control for a significant amount of time. The Islamic State stronghold still has approximately 5,000 fighters within the walls of the city. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS recorded a message directed at them as ISIS was being pushed back in the region surrounding Mosul.
Iraqi Forces Are Outside Mosul
Since the operation to retake the city of Mosul started some 100,000 forces have contributed to the effort. The coalition consists mainly of Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga forces with support from the United States. Since the beginning of the operation around 80 villages in the areas surrounding Mosul were liberated. Now, the fighting is entering its decisive phase, as coalition forces are preparing to enter the city itself. Mosul is likely to see urban warfare with the fighting carried out from street to street.
With Iraqi forces at its door and losing ground rapidly, ISIS received a rare public message from its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The first message from al-Baghdadi since December 2015, it encourages ISIS fighters to go on. ISIS’s media arm released the audio in which the leader of the organization talks about its mission. A-Furqan is the media wing of ISIS and it released the audio this Thursday.
On the audio, al-Baghdadi says that he is “confident of victory” in Mosul. Despite saying that victory belongs to the Islamic State, al-Baghdadi has advice for those still in the city. He says that “holding your ground in honor is a thousand times better than retreating in disgrace”. The message prepares ISIS militants for bitter fighting should it come to that. ISIS militants have already taken up position in Mosul and have taken civilians from nearby villages with them. ISIS is ready to use civilians as human shields. So far, ISIS militants have set fire to oil fields in order to lower visibility of coalition planes. Also, they have carried out suicide car attacks in nearby towns.
Al-Baghdadi Lists the Enemies of the Islamic State
The voice on the audio, which reportedly belongs to ISIS leader al-Baghdadi, can be heard drawing up a list of groups of people that are on the wrong side of the Islamic State. The tone of the address is even more divisive than before, going against Shi’a Muslims as well as other groups.
“God’s enemies from the Jews, Christians, atheists, Shiites, apostates and all of the world’s infidels have dedicated their media, money, army and munitions to fight Muslims and jihadists in the State of Nineveh after they witnessed it become one of the bases of Islam and one of its minarets under the Caliphate,”
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi used the ancient name of Nineveh for the present-day region of Mosul. Trying to bring legitimacy to ISIS efforts to make their Caliphate a reality.
Image source: here.