Islamic State Turned Desperate in Mosul Fight, Iraqis Say

Islamic State Turned Desperate in Mosul Fight, Iraqis Say by Asa Fitch and Ali A. Nabhan - Wall Street Journal

In their final days in Mosul, Islamic State militants dispatched dozens of suicide bombers—including women with babies in their arms—and searched homes for young boys they could force into battle, said Iraqi commanders who led the fight and residents who survived.

Almost all of the terror group’s remaining fighters in Mosul’s Old City wore suicide vests during gunbattles, and the extremists also strapped bombs to disabled civilians, according to Iraqi commanders who described the fierce resistance Islamic State put up as the last stage of the battle unfolded over the past week.

Civilians who fled late in the battle said Islamic State fighters searched homes periodically. Hassan Yunis Khidhir, a bakery worker who fled his neighborhood last week, said he had his three sons, aged 14, 17 and 20, wear full niqabs, the black face coverings worn by conservative Muslim women, when Islamic State came looking.

“When we finally made it out to the security forces, we were so happy that we all cried because we never expected to make it out alive,” Mr. Khidhir said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over Islamic State in Mosul on Monday after nearly nine months of fighting to recapture Iraq’s second-largest city, which Islamic State had held for three years.

Some fighting continued in subsequent days as Iraqi forces coordinated airstrikes with a U.S.-led military coalition on buildings in the Old City’s narrow streets where Islamic State fighters were believed to be holed up…

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