ISIS forces reportedly killed at least 15 civilians in the Old City in central Mosul on Monday, when they entered a previously contested area disguised as invading Iraqi troops, and killed locals who welcomed them, believing they had expelled ISIS.
The move is expected to temper hopes among other civilians around Western Mosul, or at the very least have them reluctant to “welcome” any Iraqi troops, lest they also turn out to be another trick by ISIS forces.
That ISIS was able to carry out such a trick at all reflects the Iraqi government’s continuing claims of major gains on the ground, despite having taken little to no territory over the last month and a half in the Old City. This narrative would’ve given the locals every reason to believe that liberating forces might’ve been arriving.
Iraq issued a statement today confirming the area is still under ISIS control, which of course the locals had already figured out. It remains to be seen if Iraqi leaders will back away from unfounded claims of “progress” given that.