ISIS has turned Mosul into a fortress

Reuters reports: In a government building in Mosul, a handful of Iraqi contractors gathered to compete for a tender last month.

It was the kind of routine session that happens in cities everywhere — except here the contract was for fortifications ordered by the new rulers in town, Islamic State.

One member of the radical Islamist group grabbed a map and explained to those present what was required.

“Under Islamic State’s tender document, a trench two meters in depth and two meters in width needs to be dug around Mosul,” said a source in the city close to the tendering process.

The winning contractor will be paid the equivalent of $4,000 for each kilometer of trench, the source said.

The tender demonstrates Islamic State’s determination to defend the city that it conquered in June, as the extremists grabbed a large area of territory from Baghdad. Rich in Muslim history, Mosul stands at the center of the group’s aim to carve out a modern caliphate from large parts of Syria and Iraq.

Interviews with 11 Mosul residents, several of whom fled this month, reveal how Islamic State has created a police state strong enough to weather severe popular discontent and military setbacks, including the deaths of senior leaders.

Along with the planned trench, the militants have sealed Mosul’s western entrance with giant cement walls.

They also blew up a bridge that Kurdish fighters could use to attack Mosul.

“They will fight to the last drop of blood defending Mosul, and for them this battle could define their existence. Losing Mosul means a final defeat for Islamic State in Iraq,” said a retired army general living in Mosul. [Continue reading…]

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