Graffiti 'by Australian jihadist' found in Mosul church

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Posted

July 07, 2017 06:42:17

As Iraqi forces fight their way into the last strongholds of the Islamic State (IS) group in Mosul they are continuing to uncover more evidence of foreign fighters, including graffiti apparently left by an Australian jihadist.

Key points:

  • Iraqi forces uncover tagging on a Mosul church denoting the culprit is an Australian jihadist
  • The text reads “Abu Abdurrahman al Australi”
  • Iraqi forces are continuing the battle against IS, they say militants are using children as human shields

The church appears to have been used as an IS base.

On one wall, in Arabic and standard IS style, the fighters have blurred the Islamic profession of faith in one god. Next to it, written in English capital letters is the simple tag: “Abu Abdurrahman al Australi”.

Taken at face value, it would indicate an Australian jihadist who has a son named Abdurrahman, but the extremists often choose pseudonyms with no relation to their personal lives.

In one room, vests worn in combat to carry magazines of ammunition and other tools of war are piled up with other military paraphernalia.

The decomposing bodies of two IS fighters lie on the ground — one of them appears to have been executed.

Rubble from parts of the church that have been destroyed, as well as debris from nearby air-strikes, litters the grounds.

The Australians who have signed up with IS have helped wreak havoc on the population, dividing the community and persecuting followers of other faiths.

As they have in so many other churches in northern Iraq, IS fighters have methodically defaced the religious icons in the church.

They have chiselled off religious texts inscribed on the walls as well as the face of Jesus in a bas relief sculpture.

The church is just a few hundred metres from Al Nouri mosque.

The iconic structure where IS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi declared the caliphate three years ago was blown up late last month, apparently by IS fighters.

Militants resort to using children as human shields

Iraqi commanders say female IS militants are firing on their forces and using children as human shields as the extremist group defends its last sliver of Mosul’s Old City.

The militants’ use of human shields has repeatedly slowed Iraqi advances throughout the nearly nine-month offensive to retake the country’s second largest city, and the commanders’ frustration was on display as they watched surveillance footage from the front lines.

“The women are fighting with their children right beside them,” Lieutenant General Sami al-Aridi said as he was briefed by an officer holding a tablet computer showing drone imagery.

“It’s making us hesitant to use airstrikes, to advance. If it weren’t for this we could be finished in just a few hours.”

Another officer in the command post suggested using Iraqi artillery, which would not require approval from the US-led coalition.

“They’re all Daesh, just kill them all,” the commander said, referring to the IS group by another name.

“There are civilians there, but they are Daesh families,” another officer said.

Neither would agree to speak on the record, in line with military regulations.

“For a child, even if his father is a criminal, what has he done?” Mr al-Aridi said.

“At the same time, my men are still taking casualties. We had 14 wounded today already.”

Women have also carried out suicide bombings against Iraqi forces.

Three female suicide bombers hiding among fleeing civilians killed at least three soldiers over the past week.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated his forces on their “big victory” in Mosul on Tuesday, as they appeared to be on the verge of driving the militants from their last stronghold, but the grinding, house-by-house fighting continues.

ABC/wires

Topics:

unrest-conflict-and-war,

terrorism,

iraq,

australia



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