Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi broke his year-long silence Wednesday with an audio statement imploring ISIS fighters to remain resilient in Mosul.
“Know that the value of staying on your land with honor is a thousand times better than the price of retreating with shame,” he declared in the statement. Baghdadi’s statement comes as the U.S.-backed Iraqi Security Forces slowly make their way into the ISIS held city of Mosul, after a two year occupation. He implored his fighters to remain to the last man and to “Turn the dark night of the infidels into day, destroy their homes and make rivers of their blood.”
Iraqi Special Forces entered the city of Mosul Monday, as hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped. ISIS forces remain heavily entrenched within the city, deploying dozens of suicide bombers against Iraqi positions. Reports indicate ISIS has slaughtered nearly 232 civilians, and is using civilians as human shields against U.S. airstrikes.
The ISIS tactic of laying explosives throughout Mosul and its surrounding villages, is deepening fears civilians will not be able to return to their homes. “We think it will last for several years to decontaminate the area. The type of contamination and the type of explosive hazard is very new and different from what the de-mining world has known so far,” head of mission in Iraq for Handicap International told US News and World Report.
Amid the ongoing Mosul operation in Iraq, the Pentagon announced Oct. 26 it is in the final planning stages for an assault on ISIS’s capital city of Raqqa in Syria. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend told reporters there is a “sense of urgency” in disrupting potential terrorist plots.
In the middle of his statement, Baghdadi seemed to prepare his followers for the eventual loss of territory, saying, “Know that if the sky collapses onto the earth, God will make room for the believers to breathe.” Baghdadi’s statement echoes ISIS’s caution in July that the west “will have to wait a long time: until an entire generation of Muslims that was witness to the establishment of the Islamic State and the return of the caliphate . . . is wiped out.”
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