ISIS supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi speaking in a mosque in Mosul. File photo
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ERBIL – Radical group of the Islamic State (ISIS) has closed a number of mosques in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul for military reasons, local sources reported on Thursday.
Local activists confirmed that the terror group has closed more than six mosques in the western part of the city.
Speaking to ARA News in Mosul, head of the Nineveh media center Raafat al-Zarari said the hardline group closed the mosque of az-Zahra in the Saddam neighborhood and another one in as-Sukkar neighborhood in the city of Mosul, preventing civilians from performing prayers there.
“There are orders to close them because there have been many mosques in the region compared to the number of worshipers,” al-Zarari reported, quoting ISIS militants as saying.
“ISIS has started to store weapons and explosives inside some mosques and using others for broadcasting news and messages to the west and local opponents,” media activist J.S. –based in as-Sukkar neighborhood– told ARA News, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He confirmed that the terror group has a plan to avoid the US-led coalitions airstrikes and “the best way is to hide weapons and media centers inside the mosques,” he argued.
“Daesh has been moving its military hardware to residential areas since two weeks, including mosques, in an apparent attempt to avoid the US-led coalition’s airstrikes,” the source added, using an acronym for ISIS.
An expert in Islamic streams told ARA News that this kind of extremist groups could resort to committing terrorist atrocities – including bombing mosques – and then blame that on the coalition jets to boost their position among and gain the support of the public.
Over the past few months, the US-led coalition forces were able to kill hundreds of top jihadis as well as destroying dozens of ISIS-linked media centers, vital locations and weapons’ warehouses in Syria and Iraq.
Reporting by: Sarbaz Yousef
Source: ARA News