The Islamic State (IS) militant group has reportedly publicly killed five Iraqis in the city of Mosul after their wives did not comply with orders to wear a new “Afghan-style” head covering.
The Alhurra website, citing Radio Sawa, reported on January 13 that Islamic State gunmen carried out the killings on January 12 in the Al-Muthanna area of Mosul.
According to the reports, the killings caused panic in Mosul.
The reports also said that the Islamic State’s Shari'a police, the Hisbah, have set up roadblocks to ensure that women are complying with the new dress code imposed by the militants in Mosul and in other areas under its control.
The Hisbah also operate in other cities under Islamic State control, including the group’s de facto capital Raqqa in Syria, where they ensure that strict rules about women’s appearance are complied with by residents.
Meanwhile, Kurdish news sources have reported that Islamic State militants in Mosul have tightened security in the city and have begun to forcibly conscript young men for duties such as city security as well as frontline deployment.
Kurdish outlet Rudaw cited an unnamed source in Mosul as saying that the militants had deployed tens of gunmen on the streets of the city to check civilians and inspect cars.
An education official in Mosul said that IS militants had raided a high school in the city to conscript students.
It is not possible to independently confirm the reports.
The reports of increased crackdowns in Mosul come as the United States announced on January 13 that it had carried out three fresh air strikes against Islamic State positions around the city between 8 a.m. on January 12 and 8 a.m. on January 13.
The strikes struck an IS tactical unit, two IS bunkers, a heavy machine gun, two mortar positions, an armored vehicle, and an excavator, the U.S. Department of Defense reported on its website.
The Mosul strikes were part of seven strikes that also targeted IS positions near Tal Afar, Sinjar, and Baghdad.
The reports from Mosul also come in the wake of propaganda attempts by Islamic State to portray life in Mosul as “business as usual” -- the phrase used by British hostage John Cantlie in his latest video report for the militant group.
In the video, released on January 3, Cantlie says that Mosul is an “absolute heartland” for the Islamic State group. The captive photojournalist then walks through a “bustling” market, where he says that people are not suffering in Mosul, unlike Western claims to the contrary.
Cantlie read from Western media articles saying that Mosul residents feared the Islamic State’s police before saying that the police were “almost redundant, despite their very firm presence.”
Cantlie’s video was released shortly after a German journalist, Jurgen Todenhofer, reported on life in Mosul. Todenhofer, the first Western journalist to be allowed access to Islamic State-controlled territory, wrote that there was an “almost ecstatic enthusiasm” for the militant group in the city and that there were around 5,000 militants spread throughout Mosul. According to Todenhofer, Islamic State militants were trying to establish the areas under their control as a functioning state.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk