“It breaks my heart to see the children of Mosul become future terrorists. I taught my son to pretend to be autistic to avoid being recruited by Daesh. They are desperate and could force children to fight.” That message was picked up by Reuters from a Mosul resident via WhatsApp. Today, Facebook, Viber and WhatsApp are the only means of communication with the outside.
A million and a half people are still living there after the mass exodus of June 2014. In recent weeks, they have been witnessing the preparations of the Islamic State in view of the counter-offensive that Baghdad supposedly intends to launch later this month. For months, the militia have been armoring Iraq’s second city, building tunnels, trenches and minefields. Snipers are taking positions on rooftops.
But in recent days, according to information provided to Reuters by U.S. and Iraqi officials, the activities are intensified: Five bridges were filled with explosives, car bombs are ready to attack and surveillance is even more stifling.