Fight to the end, ISIS boss Baghdadi urges Mosul jihadists

2016-11-03 11:22
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (File, AFP)

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Gogjali - Jihadist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on his fighters to resist as Iraqi forces were poised on Thursday to enter the city of Mosul where he declared a "caliphate" two years ago.

The appeal was made in an audio recording released on the Internet and purported to be by the elusive leader of the Islamic State group, his first message this year.

"Do not retreat," he said. "Holding your ground with honour is a thousand times easier than retreating in shame."

"To all the people of Nineveh, especially the fighters, beware of any weakness in facing your enemy," Baghdadi said, referring to the northern Iraqi province of which Mosul is the capital.

In June 2014, days after jihadist fighters swept across swathes of Iraq, he made a rare public appearance in Mosul and announced the creation of an Islamic "state" straddling Iraq and Syria.

The "caliphate" has been shrinking steadily since last year and Iraqi forces earlier this week reached Mosul, the jihadists' last major stronghold in Iraq.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi forces, backed by the US-led coalition and its warplanes, launched a massive offensive on Mosul on October 17.

It was not immediately possible for AFP to authenticate the recording, entitled "This is what God and his messenger have promised us," but leading experts of the jihadist organisation did not appear to doubt it.

Sunni 'traitors'

Rumours have abounded about the Iraqi jihadist leader's health and movements but his whereabouts are unclear.

ISIS has had a tendency to fall back when massively outnumbered lately, giving up some of its emblematic bastions - such as Fallujah in Iraq and Dabiq in Syria - without following its own apocalyptic ideology of fighting to the bitter end.

In his latest message, which is undated but makes references to events that are at most a few weeks old, Baghdadi calls for attacks against Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Ankara has troops stationed at a base just outside Mosul and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's escalating rhetoric has raised fears of a unilateral Turkish intervention in Iraq.

Baghdadi also said that his followers who could not travel to Syria or Iraq should aim for Libya and urged all ISIS fighters to remain united in adversity.

He attempted to stir up sectarian resentment by referring to religious flags and slogans of Shi’ite fighters among the Iraqi forces and by accusing the country's Sunni politicians of treason.

The recapture of Mosul by Iraqi forces could spell the end of the group's days as a land-holding force in Iraq and deal a death blow to the "caliphate".

The US-led coalition estimates the number of ISIS fighters holed up in Mosul at 3 000 to 5 000 and has warned the battle of Mosul could be long and difficult.

Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul from three main fronts have retaken dozens of villages and towns scattered over hundreds of square miles in just over two weeks.

Earlier this week, federal forces reached the eastern edge of Mosul and on Wednesday were clearing the most recently re-conquered areas to set up a breach of the city.

Fears of civilians

Civilians who emerged cautiously from their homes carrying white flags told tales of ISIS brutality.

"They confiscated my tractor and then threw me in jail for six days. They beat me and when I got out I couldn't do my work anymore," said Yusef Fariq.

The 40-year-old farmer, speaking from his home in Gogjali and surrounded by his mother and two sons, still had the long beard ISIS militants forced him to grow.

"They were killing us, always asking for money, we couldn't go anywhere. We went through hell," his mother said.

The electric hair clipper a member of the Iraqi special forces gave to residents of Gogjali was the village's most popular item as men who had been forced to grow beards by ISIS were finally able to shave.

With an assault on the city looking imminent, aid groups said they were "bracing for the worst" and warned that the fate of a million-plus civilians still believed trapped inside Mosul was in the balance.

They have called for corridors allowing the safe escape of civilians to be opened.

ISIS fighters have been rounding up residents in villages and using them as cover to move across the battlefield, prompting fears they would systematically hide behind "human shields" to defend the city.

Read more on:    isis  |  abu bakr al-baghdadi  |  iraq

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.