ISIS escalated its execution campaign in and around Mosul, targeting former Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) officers and civilians accused of collaborating with the ISF in order to maintain control and inflict fear as the ISF closes in.
The UN, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and local sources reported that ISIS has executed hundreds of civilians on charges of collaborating with the ISF and has executed or kidnapped over 600 former ISF officers when it withdrew from terrain, including Hammam al-Alil and near Tel Afar.
ISIS is using the execution campaign to demonstrate control over its population, deter the ISF from advancing lest ISIS retaliates with executions, and tamp down on possible internal resistance.
It will likely increase this tactic as the ISF closes in on Mosul where the majority of the estimated 1.5 million civilians still remain, raising the likelihood of high human causalities during the operation to retake the city.
ISIS reactivated networks in Anbar, allowing it to carry out suicide attacks in secured locations near Fallujah and Karbala. ISIS carried out successful suicide attacks near Karbala and at a checkpoint in Fallujah on November 14 and in Amiriyat al-Fallujah on November 17, targeting Shi’a pilgrims, security forces, and civilians.
The attack in Fallujah marks the first attacks since the city’s recapture in June.
The locations of the attacks suggest that ISIS has reestablished or consolidated networks in the area or found residents that remain either tolerant of ISIS’s ideology or opposed to the government enough to allow ISIS to infiltrate.
ISIS will continue to exploit the gaps left in local security due to the large deployment of ISF and Popular Mobilization units away from Fallujah to northern Iraq in order to carry out attacks.