As Iraqi troops close in on Mosul, the United Nations assured that the extremist group is preparing to use chemical weapons on government forces.

Narrow streets teeming with civilians have forced Iraqi troops to advance on foot while Kurdish peshmerga units are containing the northern portions of the city. Mosul is the largest settlement held by ISIS in Iraq, which has called for a full-scale offensive by the Iraqi army, Shia militants, and Kurdish forces to retake the city.

In the Syrian city of Raqqa, residents have come to accept life under ISIS. Image Credit: PRI

Taking Mosul from ISIS’ control

According to field reports, over 100 ISIS fighters have been neutralized, but many could be hiding in the tunnels that ISIS is known to build on its enclaves. The military is slow to advance mainly due to the abundance of booby traps and the narrow passageways that forbid armored vehicles from passing through.

But last Thursday, the United Nations Human Rights office announced that the Islamic State is preparing chemical weapons for their last stand in Mosul, perhaps as a last measure if they were to lose the city, which still holds about a million citizens that have not fled the rule of the Islamic State.

Specifically, reporters claim that there are large stacks of ammonia and sulfur in civilian areas. Although there is no information concerning how the extremist group will use the chemicals, the allied forces have been notified to try and protect the civilians found in the vicinity.

The macabre abuse of human integrity by ISIS has been rightfully verified in the retaking of Mosul, seeing that the Islamic State has already carried out public executions to punish treason and collaboration with allied forces. There have also been reports of ISIS fighters using human shields and putting explosive devices on young boys to try and fool the incoming military. Women captured by ISIS are also distributed among the militants for their personal use, and finally, a mass grave containing over 100 bodies was found in Hammam al-Alil, a liberated town close to Mosul. The information on the mass grave was provided by a man who managed to escape after playing dead during the execution of 50 Iraqi soldiers.

The campaign to retake Mosul has been the most complex and dangerous the country has seen since the United States managed to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Currently, the U.S. is helping Iraqi security forces with air support.

One of the critical factors in the fight is the civilian presence, where only 48,000 people have been displaced by the fighting while the UN expected at least 800,000 to leave the premises. This makes it so the Iraqi military has to neutralize the enemy resistance, which relies on car bombs and mortar fire, while also trying to protect civilians.

“We are facing the most difficult form of urban warfare, fighting with the presence of civilians, but our forces are trained for this sort of combat,” stated Sabah al-Numani on behalf of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service. Currently, about 100,000 elite troops of the Iraqi military are fighting to retake the largest city in Iraq, only second to Baghdad.

Source: Reuters