Spying effort drives ISIS to shut down cellphone service in Mosul

McClatchy reports: A covert campaign of spying by residents and Iraqi intelligence agents hunting for top leaders of the Islamic State has forced the group to suspend cellphone service in areas it controls – a move Kurdish and Iraqi officials say will do little to stop the program but will further infuriate people living under the extremists’ rule.

Iraqi officials read as a sign of success the Islamic State’s announcement last week that it had suspended cellphone service indefinitely in Mosul, the city in northern Iraq it’s controlled since June, and parts of Anbar province for fear local residents were phoning in tips that were used by U.S. and Iraqi commanders to select airstrike targets.

The U.S. military hasn’t said which of its hundreds of airstrikes since August were aimed at suspected Islamic State leaders, limiting its descriptions to generalities – an Islamic State vehicle, a fighting position or a fighting unit. But Iraqi officials confirmed that an aggressive intelligence collection program is in place to help pinpoint Islamic State leaders and military positions.

“Certainly this is an important element,” said Kurdish Foreign Minister Falah Mustafa, who agreed to speak about the intelligence collection only in general. “It helps a great deal when you know the details of what your enemy is doing in terms of their strength, their presence, their weapons, their situation, their internal situation, their supply lines, so all that is very important.” [Continue reading…]

Meanwhile, Hürriyet Daily News reports: The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has confirmed that 150 Kurdish Iraqi fighters combatting Islamist jihadists in Kobane will be replaced with a new group that will also use Turkish soil to travel to the northern Syrian town.

Although precise details are not yet known, a group of around 110 fighters is expected to enter Kobane, passing through Turkey as the first group did, Turkish military sources told daily Hürriyet on Dec. 1.

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