Middle East

Iraqi army engages in psychological warfare: corpses lying in the streets

The civilized world continues to face the real challenges of fighting Islamic extremism, whether it be on a battlefield or hiding and festering in a family neighborhood

 

What passes for a “warning” sign in Mosul is the rotting, charred, fly-infested corpse of a dead ISIS fighter lying in open view on the street, a live, unexploded suicide belt lying precariously nearby.

The Iraqi army believes it’s a lot more effective than a big yellow triangle.

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“We will leave the terrorist there,” soldier Ibrahim Mohamed told Reuters. “The message is clear to Iraqis, to keep them from joining or supporting [ISIS]. This will be your fate. The Iraqi army will finish you off.”

The army’s psychological weapon comes with drawbacks too: The dead bodies are health hazards and the bombs lying in the street could still go off.

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It’s a risk the Iraqi army is willing to take.

“We leave them in the street like that so the dogs eat them” Asaad Hussein told Reuters. “We also want the citizens to know there is a price for supporting terrorists.”

Said soldier Asaad Najif: “The fate of any terrorist is clear. We will find you and kill you.”

ISIS-held territory in and around Mosul has shrunk significantly over the past several months. The roads fighters once easily traveled by taxi in early 2016 are now dotted with government checkpoints and airstrike craters.

The western half of Mosul, which is still under ISIS control, is almost entirely cut off from territory the militants hold in Syria. In Mosul's east, the abandoned ISIS bases sit ransacked by security forces, intelligence officers and curious neighbors.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.