A ravaged marketplace in Mosul.
Nineveh: Islamic State militants are spreading panic among residents of the liberated eastern Mosul through rumors about suicide bombers, according to a local government official.
Hossam al-Abbar, a member of the Nineveh province council, said in statements on Thursday, quoted by Alsumaria News, that IS sleeper cells were diffusing rumors of suicide bombers lurking in the region so as to frighten civilians.
Abbar said security authorities already had information about the existence of such cells, urging civilians to disbelieve the rumors that bombers were going to target markets, mosques and schools.
Islamic State fighters have, however, already targeted marketplaces and schools in the eastern region since surviving members fled to the group’s western strongholds late January, when Iraqi government forces recaptured the region after three months of battles. The attacks, carried out by both gunmen and drones, left civilian and security casualties.
Security observers had also warned of dormant cells belonging to the group that may try to disturb security in the recaptured area after driving militants out. Government troops had combed several areas for search of IS vestiges at the liberated districts.
The Iraqi government is expected within the coming weeks to order a ground invasion of Islamic State’s strongholds in western Mosul, where Iraqi and international coalition generals predict a tougher battle ahead.