Isis waiting with bombs, mustard gas to hold Mosul

Isis is digging in for a battle that could last months to keep control of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, by extensively rigging the streets with bombs, preparing scores of suicide bombers, and filling trenches around key access points with burning oil.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on state TV in the early hours of Monday that the long-awaited operation to retake the city had begun.

Several sources said residents have started an armed resistance themselves, setting fire to Isis vehicles and stealing weapons, although initial reports could not be verified.

Civilians inside Mosul reported in recent days that Isis has prepared booby traps under bridges or hidden inside jackhammered holes on main roads.

The US Defence Department warned last month that Isis could also use its rudimentary attemps to manufacture mustard gas on both residents and the advancing army, providing 50,000 gas masks to Iraqi troops as a precaution.

Several areas have been blocked off with cement blast walls to funnel citizens into neighbourhoods where they can be used as human shields, text messages and photos sent to Reuters showed, and Isis has created an extensive network of underground tunnels for shielding and transporting both equipment and fighters. 

The tactics are similar to how Isis has defended other cities, but Mosul will be the biggest battle the group has ever faced. Losing control of the city will ultimately spell their defeat in Iraq.

The UN is worried that fighting could displace up to 700,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance in the first few days, and that agencies on the ground will not be able to cope.

The city - home to two million people - fell under Isis' control in 2014 when the group rapidly expanded its territory across Iraq to form its so-called caliphate.

The Iraqi army, with help from US advisors, has been gearing up to retake Mosul in the last few months, making steady gains on nearby villages and establishing supply lines to and from the US base in Qayyarah, 80 kilometres (50 miles) away.

Militants in the city have also stepped up surveillance and sniper presence on rooftops at night to quash any signs of rebellion by residents.

One civilian said via Whatsapp that children as young as eight, sometimes armed with pistols and knives, have been deployed to monitor and inform on the population. The children then recruit other children for the same task.

"[Isis] are desperate and they could force even children to fight once government troops are at the doors of Mosul," they wrote.

On Friday, it emerged that 58 people accused of organising an armed resistance plot were executed by drowning and their bodies dumped in a mass grave, Iraqi officials and residents said.

Signs of growing dissent have emerged in recent months, including anti-Isis graffiti and reports that residents were risking their lives to provide forces outside the city with intelligence useful for the army offensive.

Mr al-Abadi has previously urged civilians to stand up to and kill militants if possible.

Topics:  iraq isis islamic state

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Terrorism charges from Logan Islamic centre raid dropped

Omar Succarieh being brought to the Brisbane Police Watchhouse in 2014, (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Omar Succarieh, 33, had been set to face a Supreme Court trial

Logan Village theft

Do you recognise this person?

Stealing, Eagleby

Police would like to talk to the person pictured.

Local Partners


IF Logan City Council has its way, Springwood will be south-east Queensland's next CBD.

WATCH: NASA space station is live, see the view from above

In this picture taken from NASA's International Space Station from April 2015, the SpaceX Dragon is captured with the 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2 robotic arm before its installation to the Harmony module.

See the world from a new perspective as space station passes Rocky

Community garden set for Palmwoods

Kay Nixon at the Palmwoods Community Gardens will be hosting a launch day and inviting the ecommunity to come along and sign up.

Parcel of land to supply sustainable gardening for community

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

Tom Cruise credits success to Scientology

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise credits his success to Scientology

Hacksaw Ridge leads AACTA Awards nominations

Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer in a scene from the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

MEL Gibson's wartime drama opens in cinemas next week.

ABBA to reunite for virtual live experience


ABBA have confirmed they are to reunite - in virtual reality form

Hugh Laurie receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hugh Laurie on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Hugh Laurie and his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Blake Lively hosts 40th party for Ryan Reynolds

Blake Lively throws husband Ryan Reynold's 40th birthday bash

What's on the big screen this week

Benedict Cumberbatch in a scene from the movie Doctor Strange.

MARVEL'S latest superhero Doctor Strange makes his debut.

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June