Wearing the enemy down: IS militants resort to desperate measures by imitating army uniforms

Wearing the enemy down: IS militants resort to desperate measures by imitating army uniforms
Cornered IS militants are resorting to increasingly desperate and illegal measures, including wearing enemy SDF and Iraqi army uniforms to attack forces in Raqqa and Mosul.
2 min read
05 Jul, 2017
SDF forces have faced numerous attacks by IS militants [AFP]
Besieged Islamic State group militants are resorting to increasingly desperate tactics in Iraq and Syria, with fighters dressed in enemy uniforms and launching surprise attacks.

Dozens of IS fighters wearing Syrian Democratic Forces' fatigues launched a surprise attack on Kurdish forces in Raqqa last week.

A similar attack was reported on the Iraqi army in Mosul.

One counter-attack in Raqqa saw between 30 and 40 militants wearing Syrian Democratic Forces uniforms to launch an assault on the US-backed militia who are driving deeper into IS' self-declared "capital".

"The [IS] fighters were wearing the military uniform of the Syria Democratic Forces, and carried out attacks on both neighbourhoods located in the eastern section of Raqqa city," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.  

Similar tactics have been reported in Mosul where around 300 IS fighters are holed up in the Old City having lost almost all of the city to the Iraqi army, including the iconic and now demolished Grand al-Nuri mosque.

Several times, IS militants have launched surprise assaults on the Iraqi forces, only to be fought back, while suicide bombers have embedded themselves among refugees fleeing the war-torn city.

IS managed to retake al-Sinaa neighbourhood in one counter-attack, using  SPG-9 recoilless rifles and bomb-rigged vehicles to blast holes in the Kurdish defences.

The US-backed SDF have managed to continue their offensive on Raqqa and entered the Old City, but their forces look set for a long-slog to capture the city rather than an easy victory.

IS have stepped up bombings in Iraq and Syria, with Kurdish security forces arresting three suspected militants in Kirkuk who they believe were planning "violent acts".

Kurdish forces fear that there could be a number of IS sleeper cells in its territories and Erbil's competent intelligence and security teams are doing their best to sniff out undercover militants.

Yet human rights groups fear that civilians could be caught up in the drag net.

Both Kurdish and Iraqi forces have been accused of torturing and killing civilians in towns recaptured from IS, and such actions against Sunni Arabs will likely play into the hands of militants.
When IS falls, Iraqi and Kurdish forces could unwittingly create the conditions that would allow for the rise of militancy again.