Isis waiting with bombs, mustard gas to hold Mosul

Isis is digging in for a battle that could last months to keep control of Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, by extensively rigging the streets with bombs, preparing scores of suicide bombers, and filling trenches around key access points with burning oil.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced on state TV in the early hours of Monday that the long-awaited operation to retake the city had begun.

Several sources said residents have started an armed resistance themselves, setting fire to Isis vehicles and stealing weapons, although initial reports could not be verified.

Civilians inside Mosul reported in recent days that Isis has prepared booby traps under bridges or hidden inside jackhammered holes on main roads.

The US Defence Department warned last month that Isis could also use its rudimentary attemps to manufacture mustard gas on both residents and the advancing army, providing 50,000 gas masks to Iraqi troops as a precaution.

Several areas have been blocked off with cement blast walls to funnel citizens into neighbourhoods where they can be used as human shields, text messages and photos sent to Reuters showed, and Isis has created an extensive network of underground tunnels for shielding and transporting both equipment and fighters. 

The tactics are similar to how Isis has defended other cities, but Mosul will be the biggest battle the group has ever faced. Losing control of the city will ultimately spell their defeat in Iraq.

The UN is worried that fighting could displace up to 700,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance in the first few days, and that agencies on the ground will not be able to cope.

The city - home to two million people - fell under Isis' control in 2014 when the group rapidly expanded its territory across Iraq to form its so-called caliphate.

The Iraqi army, with help from US advisors, has been gearing up to retake Mosul in the last few months, making steady gains on nearby villages and establishing supply lines to and from the US base in Qayyarah, 80 kilometres (50 miles) away.

Militants in the city have also stepped up surveillance and sniper presence on rooftops at night to quash any signs of rebellion by residents.

One civilian said via Whatsapp that children as young as eight, sometimes armed with pistols and knives, have been deployed to monitor and inform on the population. The children then recruit other children for the same task.

"[Isis] are desperate and they could force even children to fight once government troops are at the doors of Mosul," they wrote.

On Friday, it emerged that 58 people accused of organising an armed resistance plot were executed by drowning and their bodies dumped in a mass grave, Iraqi officials and residents said.

Signs of growing dissent have emerged in recent months, including anti-Isis graffiti and reports that residents were risking their lives to provide forces outside the city with intelligence useful for the army offensive.

Mr al-Abadi has previously urged civilians to stand up to and kill militants if possible.

Topics:  iraq isis islamic state

Popular Longreach miner dies in trench accident

Longreach miner Sid Cuddy.

EXPERIENCED Longreach miner Sid Cuddy was found dead.

Island life for Rocky girl Amy

LIFE EXPERIENCES: Amy Horan calls Hayman Island home and is a yoga instructor after becoming qualified in Costa Rica.

HOW a personal journey led to a flight to Costa Rica.

What really grinds our gears?

Council complaints and enquiries from September

ROAMING dogs, overgrown allotments and incorrect parking annoy Rocky

Local Partners

$2000 raised for SES at morning tea

UP to 150 people attended a morning tea at the Heritage Village in aid of the Rockhampton SES hosted by the Rockhampton and District Benefits Association.

Your chance to win

Learn More

Community garden set for Palmwoods

Kay Nixon at the Palmwoods Community Gardens will be hosting a launch day and inviting the ecommunity to come along and sign up.

Parcel of land to supply sustainable gardening for community

Former Split Enz front man Tim Finn finds new niche

Singer Tim Finn has written the music for theatre production Ladies in Black.

Musician finds his way to theatre

WHAT'S ON: Your guide to entertainment and events this weekend

AWARD WINNING SHOW: Tequila Mockingbird can be seen at St Brednan's College, Yeppoon on Saturday.

LOOKING for something to do this weekend?

Priscilla concerned people will forget about Elvis

Priscilla Presley source Bang

She says she feels responsible to keep his legacy going

Taylor Swift files lawsuit over alleged groping

Taylor Swift source Bang

Swift has commenced legal action against a DJ over the incident

Kanye West threatens to boycott Grammys

West says he won't go to the Grammys if Frank Ocean's not nominated

Why this actress wasn't embarrassed by nude photo leak

Leslie Jones source Bang

'If you wanna see Leslie Jones naked, just ask,' she said

Dad's Army comic genius Jim Perry dies

Jimmy Perry, the creator of Dad's Army.

Dad's Army series captured all that British people savour

Check out some fashions from the Coast festival

FASHION: Ocean Zen range.

Images from the Sunshine Coast Fashion Festival show what's hot

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

What our mayor thinks of the new draft SEQPlan

The plan to use the innovative technology as part of the new Maroochydore CBD was cemented on site today when Mayor Mark Jamieson and Envac Asia Region president Chun Yong Ha formally signed the contract for the $20 million underground waste collection system.

New plan accommodates Sunshine Coast Council's vision for growth.