A Facebook account purportedly run by a local historian living in Mosul, Iraq, under Islamic State (IS) control has published a heartfelt criticism of the Iraqi central government for failing to liberate the city from the extremists.
"Apparently, Mosul is no longer part of Iraq to you," the account, Mosul Eye, wrote in English and Arabic on January 20.
It is not possible to verify the identity of the person behind the account, who has documenting events in Mosul under the pseudonym Mosul Eye for several months now. However, the account has been quoted by a number of news outlets and Iraq watchers see the account as credible.
"Please tell us, dear Iraqi government, have you given up on Mosul? If you have, please announce that publicly so we, the people who still survive in this besieged city, can seek an alternative way to free ourselves instead of waiting in vain," Mosul Eye added.
The Mosul Eye account described the takeover of Mosul by IS as "the most barbaric invasion since the Mongols."
Mosul Eye vowed that the residents of the city would liberate Mosul "with or without your help" and warned that IS would "expand and grow stronger."
"Only then it will be too late to save you as well," Mosul Eye concluded.
Despite the anger and sense of abandonment felt by Mosul Eye, his heartfelt address and expression of determination to eventually see Mosul liberated from the militants came just days before reports that attempts are being made to free the city, both by local resistance groups, the Iraqi military, and Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
A network of local Iraqi "anti-IS commando cells" from a little-known resistance movement have carried out hundreds of attacks against IS gunmen in Mosul, according to a January 22 report from NBC News.
The "Mosul Liberation Battalions" have killed a "large number" of militants including using homemade bombs, Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi told NBC.
The resistance fighters are using weapons captured from IS to fight the militants since the extremist group maintains such a stranglehold on the city that it is impossible for supplies to reach them.
Iraqi Military And Peshmerga Launch Attacks
Coordinated attacks on IS in Mosul have also been launched by the Iraqi military and Kurdish Peshmerga militias, the pan-Arab outlet Asharq Al-Awsat reported on January 22.
Peshmerga forces carried out a major assault east of Mosul, supported by U.S.-led coalition air strikes, and also succeeded in liberating part of the Kurdish town of Tel Afar west of Mosul.
Peshmerga Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Jamal Mohamed told Asharq Al-Awsat that on January 21 Peshmerga forces had "regained control of strategic areas west of Mount Badush which links Mosul to Tel Afar."
Reuters reported on January 22 that Kurdish forces said they had broken a key IS supply line that connected Mosul to IS-held territory near the Syrian border. The Kurdish forces said they had cleared IS militants from almost 500 square kilometers of land.
Video footage uploaded by the Kurdish outlet BasNews on January 22 shows the Peshmerga offensive against IS militants west of Mosul, supported by international-coalition air strikes. The video shows bulldozers digging trenches to secure the area against the militants.
While a major offensive against Mosul is not expected until the spring, if the Peshmerga forces can prevent IS from retaking the area and rebuilding the supply line, the gains will help cut the militants in Mosul off from IS strongholds to the west.
IS Digging Trenches In Mosul
The Islamic State group, however, is determined to retain control of Mosul. According to another Reuters report, militants have asked contractors to compete for a tender to dig a large trench around the city that will be two meters wide and two meters deep. Militants have also closed the western entrance to the city with a concrete wall and blown up a bridge.
A retired army general living in Mosul told Reuters that IS will "fight to the last drop of blood" to hold onto the city.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk