Amidst the chaos that was unfolding during and in the lead up to the battle to liberate Mosul from ISIS, little was known about the horrors that the people of Mosul had to endure under ISIS during the most intense phases of the battle. More information, however, is beginning to emerge as residents of the city have come out to give testimony of the barbaric methods ISIS used to punish civilians and counter the impending advance of the Iraqi forces.
In the neighbourhood of Zanjili, which is located on the western side of Mosul, ISIS, unknown to most local and international media outlets at the time, committed one of its most horrific massacres of the battle.
In June 2016, just before the battle to liberate Mosul began and just as the Iraqi forces liberated all of the key ISIS strongholds in Anbar such as Ramadi and Fallujah, ISIS militants rounded up between 200 to 500 innocent men, women and children in the neighbourhood and executed them in a bloodthirsty rage outside the pepsi factory located in the area.
The militants had set up a no-mans zone that covered the area between the “Medical City” hospital complex and an old Pepsi factory. Snipers and artillery units watched for anyone who entered this area and were ready to open fire indiscriminately. Life inside Mosul under ISIS was becoming so unbearable because of the group’s inhumane treatment, the squalid living conditions in the city as well as the almost complete lack of basic necessities such as food, water and electricity, thousands of people felt like there was no other choice for them other than to plan an escape from the city. On the first Thursday of June 2016, 200-500 civilians tried to escape to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), but were caught by the group and were slaughtered on the spot.
The western side of Mosul saw the most intense fighting seen in Iraq’s modern history. Large swathes of this section of the city was reduced to rubble and thousands of people were reportedly killed. It was in this section of the city where ISIS, in their utter desperation after having suffered so many losses at such a fast rate, were totally merciless and cruel during the. Reports suggest that the militants who controlled the western side of Mosul were the most extreme and committed members of terrorist group, and were known for their cruelty.
This massacre committed just before Iraqi forces began their operations to liberate the city of Mosul is remembered vividly by all residents of the city, particularly those who lived in the neighbourhood of Zanjili. The people of the neighbourhood have constructed a wall to remember those who lost their lives at the hands of the terrorist group. This wall serves as a constant reminder of the cruelty of ISIS and all those who subscribe to their twisted ideology.