Source: Wall Street Journal
MOSUL, Iraq—Foreign Islamic State fighters are increasingly being abandoned by local militants as the group loses ground in Mosul, leaving a hardened core of extremists dominated by outsiders that is girding for a fight to the finish.
Teams of up to 10 fighters comprised mainly of foreigners control individual streets in the group’s last major Iraqi stronghold, using rooftops as sniper positions and outfitting vehicles with explosives, residents said. The fighters are also building tunnels inside private homes and using residents as human shields, Iraqi and American commanders say.
Unlike militants from Mosul, many foreign fighters and Iraqis from other parts of the country are unable to quit and blend in with civilians who are fleeing the city by the thousands. And with Mosul basically surrounded by Iraqi forces, foreigners can’t easily escape into the desert region bordering Syria, either.
“This is their last stand,” said Lt. Gen. Abdelghani al-Assadi, the commander of Iraq’s elite U.S.-trained counterterrorism forces. “99% of them came to die.”