Islamic State Blocks News on Liberation Offensive in Mosul

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) has restricted Mosul residents’ access to news about the outside world in an effort to keep civilians from knowing about the U.S.-backed Iraqi army’s offensive to liberate the city, reports Reuters.

Local officials and analysts told Reuters that the purpose of ISIS’s crackdown on access to information about the outside world “was to insulate residents and its own fighters from any further news about the advance of Iraqi forces,” notes the report.

“This could reduce the chances of a coordinated uprising against Islamic State in the city and of people who could be used as ‘human shields’ trying to flee, they said, as well as preventing morale among fighters falling,” continues Reuters.

Since ISIS captured Mosul in June 2014, the city’s civilians have been forced to rely on satellite TV, on the rare occasions when it is available, as their primary source of news from outside the world given the weak access to internet and mobile networks.

Citing residents, Reuters notes:

For Iraqis living in the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, news is dwindling about the U.S.-backed army massing to the south for an assault on the city that could begin this year. Soon after Iraqi forces established a foothold in the Makhmour area in February, about 60 km (40 miles) from the northern city, the jihadists began restricting access to television for its 1 million-strong population…

ISIS wants to maintain the appearance that it is winning the fight no matter what actually happens on the battlefield.

According to Nineveh provincial councilman Hassan al-Sabawi, ISIS wants to keep its fighters and civilians under its control in the dark about its setbacks.

Mosul, the provincial capital of Nineveh, is the largest city in the jihadist group’s so-called caliphate and second largest in all of Iraq.

“They are scared of satellites because they give a realistic picture of the situation,” Sabawi said, in contrast to the one-sided media ISIS controls and allows operate.

Five unnamed residents told Reuters ISIS has already taken down satellite TV receivers from some businesses and has vowed to ban them from all public places within one month.

Two anonymous local merchants indicated that “in early April the [ISIS] group barred the sale and maintenance of satellite receiver boxes for household use.”

“Three members of the Hisba [morality police] entered my shop and said, ‘From now on buying and selling satellite receivers is prohibited. They are a source of debauchery and immorality,'” declared one of the merchants.

ISIS is coercing some residents into giving up their satellite receivers.

“One said he turned over his box in order to free a brother arrested for smoking,” reports Reuters. “An elderly widow said Islamic State took hers as a condition for giving her financial aid.”

“Islamic State has even threatened to cut electricity generators used by 80 percent of residents unless they surrender the receivers, three residents said,” adds the report.


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