Iraq drops leaflets over Mosul amid viscous IS crackdown

Iraq drops leaflets over Mosul amid viscous IS crackdown
The Iraqi Air Force has dropped tens of thousands of leaflets over Mosul, informing residents of an upcoming operation to retake the city from the Islamic State militant group.
3 min read
16 October, 2016
The launch of the operation is expected to be announced soon [Anadolu]

Iraqi aircraft dropped "tens of thousands" of leaflets - some bearing safety instructions for Mosul residents - ahead of an operation to retake the city from the extremists, the military said.

Iraq's Joint Operations Command said the aircraft dropped "newspapers and magazines on the centre of the city of Mosul carrying important news... to inform them of updates and facts and victories" over IS, AFP reported.

One image showed a leaflet containing safety instructions for Mosul residents, urging them to tape over windows to prevent the glass from shattering during air raids

It comes as signs show the Battle of Mosul is impending, with thousands of Kurdish and Iraqi troops rushing for the front lines.

Meanwhile, there have been news of a brutal crackdown by IS of suspected dissenters in Mosul as the impending battle for the city reaches zero hour.

There have been unconfirmed reports of IS militants have been walking through Mosul city centre carrying scissors, warning residents they will "cut out their tongues" if they mention the "liberation of Mosul.

This comes amid the rupture of alleged shelling of Mosul while Iraqi militias take up position on the edge of the city.

The launch of the operation is expected to be announced soon, but it will mark only the start of a battle which is expected to be long and bloody.

There have also been reports of IS rushing injured out of Mosul before the offensive begins.

It is unclear which forces will be involved in the assault, but there have been concerns about the presence of Shia militias, some of whom have been carrying the portraits of Iran's leader and rising sectarian rhetoric from their leaders.

Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said on Sunday that Peshmerga fighters will play a role in the fighting.

They will have to battle IS defences to reach the city, in some cases over distances of dozens of kilometres .

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Then they will likely seek to surround the city before launching an assault, marking the start of deadly street fighting with die-hard militants in a city with a large civilian population.

However, other towns in Syria have falled to rebels and Kurdish militias with less of a fight than expected.

Intense bombing and shelling - and the possibe advance of Shia militias on the Sunni-majority town could spark a humanitarian crisis of unseen proportions in Iraq.

The UN has warned that up to one million people may be displaced by the fighting as winter sets in.

Even the recapture of Mosul will not mark the end of the war against IS, which still holds other territory in Iraq and is likely to turn increasingly to insurgent tactics such as bombings and hit-and-run attacks as it loses more ground.

Agencies contributed to this story.