Middle East

Internet goes dark in Daesh-held Mosul

Terrorist group reportedly fears communication between local residents, Iraqi security forces

11.08.2016
Internet goes dark in Daesh-held Mosul

Ankara

By Jamal Badrani

NINEVEH, Iraq

The Daesh terrorist group has cut off Internet access in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul -- which the group has held since mid-2014 -- with the apparent aim of preventing local residents from communicating with elements of the Iraqi army.

"Daesh is afraid that Mosul residents will use the Internet to inform the army as to the whereabouts of the group’s positions and strongholds in the city," the Iraqi army’s media unit said in a statement.

Ahmed Ali, the owner of a small Internet provider in Mosul, told Anadolu Agency: "A few days ago, three Daesh militants came to my office and told me that Internet service had been cut citywide."

"They instructed me not to renew subscriptions for any of my clients," he said.

According to local witnesses, Daesh has recently set up small Internet centers throughout the city at which local residents can go online.

"But these centers are full of Daesh agents who monitor what people are looking at and who they communicate with," one local source, speaking anonymously due to fears for his safety, told Anadolu Agency.

Saif Khaled, a young Mosul resident, said: "While walking through the streets of Mosul, Daesh militants may suddenly demand your mobile phone and check your contacts."

"The people here are very cautious when talking to their relatives, especially regarding the situation in Mosul under Daesh rule," he added.

Omar Abdullah, a Mosul University professor and expert on Islamic groups, told Anadolu Agency that Daesh "has recently come to understand how much the Iraqi security forces depend on information provided by Internet users -- especially when it comes to the locations of Daesh positions and sites".

"With this in mind," Abdullah noted, "the group decided to cut Internet access in Mosul before the Iraqi army launches its anticipated campaign to liberate the city."

Iraqi forces are currently preparing a major offensive aimed at retaking Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.

"Another reason [for the move] is that Daesh has seen its recent military defeats [elsewhere in Iraq] widely celebrated on social media sites," Abdullah said.

In June, Iraqi security forces announced the "total liberation" of the city of Fallujah from Daesh following a month-long military operation.

Iraq has suffered a devastating security vacuum since mid-2014, when Daesh captured vast swathes of territory in western and northern Iraq.

While the Iraqi army, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, has managed to retake much lost territory, the terrorist group remains in firm control of several parts of the country.

*The names of Mosul residents referred to in this report have been changed to protect their identities.

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