A new “photo essay” published Tuesday by Islamic State shows a variety of restaurants in Mosul, the group’s largest Iraqi stronghold.
The press release, distributed by the press office of the jihadis’ makeshift government in Ninawa Province, continues the campaign to make life in territory held by the group appear as normal as possible. A previous entry in the series showcased a former five-star hotel which the group refurbished to meet its standards. (RELATED: Step Inside The New ISIS Resort, Which Was ‘One Of The Best Hotels In Iraq’ [PHOTOS])
In Mosul, which Islamic State has held for nearly a year, the restaurant scene appears dominated by classic Arab street food. Like in many Arab cities, Mosul’s fast-food restaurants sport flashy displays, bright fluorescent lights, sidewalk seating and immaculate floors.
The clientele is apparently all-male, a mix of men in western and traditional clothes accompanied by their children. Many restaurants in the Arab world include “family sections” for women and their children, which, if they exist in Mosul, would not be depicted in propaganda by Islamic State’s own standards.
In a window sign that likely predates the terrorists’ takeover of Mosul, the elaborate shawarma stand, Dalil, advertises a “main branch in Aleppo, Syria” — hundreds of miles away. Aleppo is now at the center of a years-long battle for control between the Syrian government and a broad coalition of rebel fighters, which includes secular forces as well as the al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.
Other restaurants specialize in finer dining. A casual sit-down establishment serves a rice casserole called kabsa as well as grilled kabobs, while a white-tablecloth eatery seems to offer a buffet lunch special.
And at Gondola Pizza, uniformed waiters pause next to customers for, as the caption states, “the observance of prayers at their appointed times.”
As the largest Iraqi city under Islamic State control, Mosul has been the focus of several abortive plans to push back the group. In recent weeks, IS has expanded its reach toward Baghdad by capturing the city of Ramadi, and further into Syria. (RELATED: ISIS’ War On History Claims Precious 4,000-Year-Old City)
Supporters of IS shared the release widely on Tuesday, with one Twitter user sarcastically typing the “face with tears of joy” emoji. Mocking an Arabic-language Iraqi hashtag that translates as #SaveOurYoungMenFromISIS, the IS supporter suggested a better slogan might be #SaveOurRestaurantsFromISIS.
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