The UN’s human rights office recently reported that ISIS militants in Mosul executed more than 230 people. The people recently executed included 190 former Iraqi security force members and 42 civilians who refused to Join ISIS.
In addition, the militants forced thousands of others to become human shields and moved whole families to ISIS strongholds. This swelled the population of Hamman al-Alil, a town south of Mosul, from 23,000 to 60,000.
While the militants initially received some sympathy upon entering Mosul in June 2014, their increasingly brutal occupation has destroyed much of this. TIME interviewed civilians who recently fled areas of northern Iraq controlled by ISIS.
These accounts suggest that ISIS is tightening its social control in anticipation of efforts to liberate Mosul. They have also increased the number of executions of former Iraqi security forces and suspected smugglers. Even cigarette smokers fear execution if they are observed smoking.
ISIS is doing its best to cut off civilians from the outside world by confiscating satellite dishes and SIM cards. People who managed to hide their SIM cards are afraid to sue them for fear of retribution.
Multiple reports indicate that some residents of Mosul are actively resisting the organization—killing ISIS fighters anonymously and then disappearing.
In addition to its brutal attacks on residents, ISIS has done its best to destroy priceless archeological sites that it considers heretical. Such sites include ones that suggest past cooperation between Islam and other religions.
The organization also destroyed much of Mosul’s literary and scientific history. They burned down the library at the University of Mosul and blew up and razed the city library.
While ISIS has brazenly released videos of its destruction, it does not advertise that it raises significant amounts of money by looting archeological sites and selling priceless treasures on the black market.
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