JOHANNESBURG – Australia’s Chief of the Defence Force, Mark Binskin, says Islamic State (IS) militants are increasingly using what he described as “Mad Max-style” vehicles, laden with explosives, against coalition forces in Mosul, Iraq, as the extremists face military defeat.
Air Chief Marshal Binskin said the way Islamic State was fighting had changed in nature to incorporate more insurgent tactics, The Australian daily reported on Wednesday.
“If we go back two years, Daesh (the Arabic name for the IS) were fighting as a formed group, more along the conventional lines rather than as an insurgency,” he told a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra, the Australian capital.
He said, however, that increasingly IS fighters were ploughing towards coalition forces in cars which resembled those driven in George Miller’s 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road.
“The assault that the counter-terrorism forces are conducting on Mosul, the first line of defence that comes at them are multiple vehicle-borne, improvised explosive device attacks,” said Biskin.
“So these could come as vehicles that are loaded up but more likely now Mad Max vehicles, there’s lots of steel around them, small slits for the drivers to see through and they are predominantly suicide attacks,” he added.
Furthermore, according to the defence minister, the IS was increasingly incorporating the use of drones which were easy to purchase, with some media reports stating that some of the drones were loaded with explosives.
Meanwhile, the United Nations migration agency has reported thousands of new arrivals at Iraqi sites for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing Mosul’s western sector where fighting is taking place between government forces and the IS.
“The stories of the survivors are heart-breaking,” said Thomas Lothar Weiss, Iraq Chief of Mission of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in a Tuesday press release.
Since the start of Iraqi forces’ efforts to retake the city’s western section on February 19, more than 10,000 people have been displaced in the zone, according to Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MoMD).
“We are very worried about the fate of the tens of thousands of families still trapped inside of West Mosul,” said Weiss.
IOM reported some 1,650 people arrived at the Hamam Al Aleel facility, and nearly 2,800 arrived at Qayara air strip on Sunday night. Both these locations are in Nineweh Governorate southeast of Mosul.
MoMD estimated that another 3,000 individuals were already moving towards the checkpoints and were expected to arrive on Wednesday.
These numbers, among the largest in weeks, are just a fraction of the 250,000 or more people who could yet be displaced from western Mosul as fighting escalates, said IOM Iraq press officer Hala Jaber.
“There is serious concern for the 750,000 trapped in the densely populated western sector, with conditions worsening daily, according to reports and testimonies from those who have managed to escape,” she said.
Those who arrived at Qayara, including children, spoke of seeing dead bodies on the streets as they escaped.
Many corpses, they said, were ISIL fighters; others civilians killed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) laid by the militants.
Families escaping with children are reportedly taping their mouths with duct tape to ensure they don’t cry or make a sound that would alert ISIL.
Other families are giving their children sleeping pills or Valium to keep them quiet during their escape.
– African News Agency (ANA)