Mosul's Bloodbath: 'We Killed Everyone - IS,
Men, Women, Children'
Iraqi soldiers receive brutal, final order in
last days of battle with IS - Kill anything that
moves. Results can be found crushed in the
By MEE Contributor
- The Iraqi soldier looks out from his tiny
three-walled room across a wasteland of rubble
that crumbles steeply down to the banks of the
Tigris River and contemplates the last days of
the savage fight against the Islamic State (IS)
killed them all," he says quietly. "Daesh, men,
women and children. We killed everyone."
remains of this part of Mosul's Old City, where
IS militants made their last stand, and what
lies beneath betrays the horrific final days of
Hundreds of corpses lie half-buried in the
broken masonry and rubble that was once a
bustling, historic quarter. The stench of
decaying flesh, which comes fast in the 50C
summer heat, overwhelms the senses.
are the most distinguishable remains; there are
many poking from the rubble.
final killing spree has left its mark, and it is
one some appear keen to cover over.
poke from the rubble of the Old City of
the last week, armoured bulldozers have trundled
back and forth over the crumpled houses,
grinding uncounted corpses into the rubble.
dead refuse to go away. Rotting body parts glow
a reddish-brown amid the pale grey of the
undulating heatscape of masonry, dust and broken
are many civilians among the bodies," an Iraqi
army major tells MEE. "After liberation was
announced, the order was given to kill anything
or anyone that moved."
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the major
said the orders were wrong, but the military had
to follow them.
not the right thing to do," he said. "Most of
the Daesh fighters surrendered. They gave
themselves up, and we just killed them."
'We make very few arrests'
major scoffs at claims made by some Iraqi
soldiers that the jails in Baghdad were already
too full to take any more IS prisoners.
not true, we have plenty of prisons, but now we
are not treating the prisoners like we did
before," he says. "Earlier in this war, we
arrested a lot of Daesh and brought them to the
intelligence services. But now, we make very few
Monday, several journalists witnessed an IS
captive being dragged through the ruined streets
of the Old City by special forces soldiers.
was bound and had a rope fastened around his
neck. The journalists had their memory cards
confiscated by soldiers and were ordered to
is no law here now," the major said. "Every day,
I see that we are doing the same thing as Daesh.
People went down to the river to get water
because they were dying of thirst and we killed
line the western banks of the Tigris. Killed in
air strikes, fighting and executions, or having
died of hunger or thirst, some have washed
ashore while others float in the blue waters.
Some of the bodies are small. They were
released on social media on 17 July shows Iraqi
helicopters carrying out what are believed to
have been some of the last air strikes of the
nine-month-long battle for Mosul.
soundtrack of cheerful, victorious music, the
helicopters target desperate people attempting
to escape the Old City by swimming across the
soldiers pose for victory photos before an Iraqi
flag, the pole planted atop a pile of rubble and
have become inured to the landscape of death
over which they move. The brutality of this long
conflict and the barbarity of their enemy has
taken its toll on the Iraqi armed forces. There
is little humanity left.
Soldiers - most with scarves wrapped around
their faces to fend off the overpowering stench
of death - pick through the rubble and corpses,
looking for modest spoils of war. Burned and
broken pieces of AK47s, empty magazines, a few
tins of ammunition.
last week, Iraqi forces were still being
attacked by occasional IS militants emerging
from the rubble or collapsed buildings to shoot
at soldiers or hurl grenades.
Thursday, a soldier approached what he thought
was an IS corpse. The militant was pretending to
be dead and shot the soldier at close range with
were still people alive under the rubble on
Monday, when four IS members - two foreign
fighters and two Iraqis - were found hiding. All
four were shot, according to an Iraqi soldier
are likely to be among what soldiers believe are
comparatively few survivors, some of whom are
still managing to target Iraqi forces from
Thursday, Iraqi army soldier Haidar said eight
tunnels with people inside had been identified
by the military, mainly from interviews with
women and children who had escaped.
section, there are three. One tunnel has six
Iraqi Daesh fighters, in another there are 30,
including nine women, and in the third, we do
not know the exact number but people coming out
tell us there are a lot," he said.
not known what became of any of those people -
but very few civilians have emerged alive from
the ruins since Thursday.
Supplies of food and drinking water are either
scarce or non-existent below ground.
Corpses bob in the waters of the Tigris (MEE)
last civilians to emerge from the rubble
resembled concentration-camp victims, many
reporting they had not eaten for a fortnight.
Some were near death.
Wednesday, a starving Yazidi boy, 11, wept in a
field hospital where he was treated for extreme
dehydration and malnutrition as he described
watching four other children die of thirst.
abducted the boy and his 13 year-old sister, who
he had not seen for the preceding 30 days, from
their home town in Iraq's Sinjar mountain in
massacred thousands of Yazidis - whose ancient
faith they decry as devil-worship - and took
thousands more women and children into
will give them nothing," Haider said on
Thursday. "Yesterday, one of the soldiers
relented and bent down to hand a bottle of water
into a hole where he thought civilians were
trapped and an IS fighter seized the gun from
his shoulder. It was an M4 (assault rifle)."
the river, bulldozer driver Hussein said that
his job was to manoeuvre over the rubble,
filling in any suspicious entrance holes to
block possible IS activity.
the holes with rubble so the Daesh can't come
out again," he said, adding that he was not sure
whether he was burying people alive.
of the tunnels stretch a long way and maybe they
can get out some other place. But my job is to
make sure they can't come out of these holes
areas of the Old City that were liberated weeks
ago, death still lingers.
the remains of the destroyed al-Nuri mosque, the
blackened disembodied head of a female IS
adherent who blew herself up among fleeing women
and children lies beside a crater.
dust nearby is a hairbrush, a fashionable
handbag, colourful clothing - small things with
which people had hoped to escape - and a woman's
steals across a ruined street with a piece of
fresh meat hanging from its jaws. It is
inevitably human - the only flesh left anywhere
in the Old City is that of dead people.
corpses still appear at different locations
across the Old City. Some have clearly been
executed, shot in the head at close range.
still have ropes trailing from tied hands and
feet, indicating that either while dead or
alive, they were dragged through the deserted
streets. Many have been set on fire to curb the
smell of decomposition.
forces proudly claim to have killed at least
2,000 IS militants in the last stages of the Old
City battle. Many of these were foreign
has offered a figure for the dead civilians -
the women and children who could not escape.
the bulldozers have churned over the rubble and
corpses and then driven back and forth over the
terrain means that the real loss of life in the
final bloodbath of the Mosul conflict will never
once-elegant historic Old City of Mosul is now
an expansive graveyard - a crumbled flattened
monument to one of the most merciless conflicts
of the still young 21st century.
This article is
available in French on
Middle East Eye French edition.
US-trained Iraqi army
division allegedly executed dozens of men in
Mosul's Old City: Human Rights Watch
views expressed in this article are solely those
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