Fresh off of last night’s reports that Iraqi forces have been systematically rounding up surviving civilians in ISIS-held Western Mosul who are trying to flee, presenting them as secretly in league with the Islamist movement, Iraqi military commanders are now accusing relatives of ISIS fighters of having joined the fight.
The allegations appear to have two specific aims: first, they provide a justification for Iraq’s struggles in capturing the last of Mosul, with claims of a surge of new fighters and allegations that they are using “human shields”in combat. More importantly, this provides cover for the inevitable purges in post-liberation Mosul.
Every Sunni city which has been captured from ISIS by Iraqi forces has been followed by a quasi-governmental purge, with Shi’ite militias and some segments of the military participating in roundups of “suspects” from vast lists of suspected collaborators, many of whom simply disappear and are never seen again.
With the US openly advocating an extermination-style war with no ISIS survivors, anything that the Iraqi commanders can say to broaden the definition of “ISIS” is going to make it a lot easier for them to gloss over the war crimes that follow as simply mopping up missions against enemy combatants.
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