ISIS uses the houses of civilians who have fled to make bombs for cars and to store weapons

The streets of Mosul are littered with burnt houses and broken vehicles. This is the scene in most of the roads and alleys of the right side of Mosul. ISIS militants have caused catastrophic long term physical and psychological damage to this city and the people inhabiting it.

Their latest tactic of terror aims at ensuring the impenetrability of Mosul’s Old City by using civilians’ cars as a means of blockade. “They forced the owners of every car to take it out on the street and they marked his house with letters so the cars remain in their place. If the place changes, they come to punish its owner. They closed the streets with cars so that the tanks could not pass through the streets”, says a recently liberated resident.

Militants are implementing many strategies to keep the Iraqi forces at bay. Given their progressively dwindling power and territory, forcing citizens to hand over their property has become necessary to keep the militants alive. However, these tactics have proven insufficient at keeping their defences strong. According to Iraqi Joint Task Force, two thirds of Mosul’s Old City has been taken from militants.

Furthermore, many citizens have also abandoned their homes, which ISIS militants turned into factories to produce car bombs or store weapons. This forced many families, who live next to these target houses, to leave their homes for fear of being bombed by Iraqi aircraft when the Iraqi Security Forces advance.  “I left my house because I was in great danger”, says a west Mosul resident. “Today they told us that they have bombed the house adjacent to mine. It was a bomb factory and my hose exploded with it”.

As fighting in western Mosul subsides, local officials are highlighting the difficulty of the humanitarian situation there. Aid is desperately needed to ease the suffering for those who are liberated.