U.S.-backed Iraqi forces fighting to liberate the city of Mosul are waging psychological war on the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), leaving militants’ corpses to rot in plain sight.
The use of bodies, displayed above ground for the jihadists and their supporters to see, is an effort to spread fear among them and deter attacks, reports Reuters.
“We leave them in the street like that so the dogs eat them,” Iraqi soldier Asaad Hussein told Reuters, referring to rotting corpses. “We also want the citizens to know there is a price for supporting terrorists.”
Iraqi army has no intention of burying the jihadists and hopes as many people as possible will get a good look at their blackened bodies, torn apart by bombs and bullets.
The corpses are left on view as a psychological weapon to deter Islamic State sleeper cells, which Iraqi officials say are highly effective and distributed across the country. Islamic State has executed thousands of Iraqi soldiers and policemen, and their comrades are eager for revenge.
The U.S.-backed Iraqi coalition participating in the ongoing Mosul offensive primarily includes government forces, Kurdish Peshmerga troops, Iran-allied Shiite militiamen, and some Christian fighters.
“We will leave the terrorists there,” Iraqi soldier Ibrahim Mohamed told Reuters while standing near three dead jihadists, ignoring the stench of the corpses.
“The message is clear to Iraqis, to keep them from joining or supporting Daesh [Islamic State]. This will be your fate. The Iraqi army will finish you off,” he added.
While some Mosul residents think the bodies should be buried because that is everyone’s right, others believe the display is necessary to keep them safe, reports Reuters.
“The bodies should stay. Daesh [ISIS] killed lots of people so why should they be buried,” declared 13-year-old Salem Jamil.
Currently, the Iraqi military and their allies are preparing to expand their operation against ISIS from liberated eastern Mosul to the western part of the city, the second-largest in Iraq and the terrorist group’s last remaining major stronghold in the country.
Gen. Petraeus went on to note that combating ISIS’s ideology will prove to be more challenging than recapturing the rest of its currently shrinking physical territory in Iraq and Syria.
Forces affiliated with the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, including the Iran-backed militiamen, have been a accused of committing “war crimes, revenge attacks and other atrocities” in Sunni-majority Mosul, including abductions, torture, and extrajudicial killings, human rights watchdog group Amnesty International has reported.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered an investigation into the alleged violations of human rights and other abuses against civilians.
“We put it there because of the terrible things they did to Iraqis,” Iraqi soldier, Asaad Najif, told Reuters, referring to a cigarette stuffed in one of the corpses’ nostrils. “The fate of any terrorist is clear. We will find you and kill you.