IRBIL, Iraq — A senior ISIS commander has been killed in the battle for Mosul, the terror group’s last major stronghold in Iraq, Iraqi military intelligence sources tell CNN.
Mahmoud Shukri al Nuaimi, a senior figure in the militant setup who also is known as Sheikh Faris, was killed Tuesday in an Iraqi-led coalition airstrike in western Mosul, the sources said.
ISIS confirmed his death in a video montage, referring to him as “the martyr of the battle.”
The Iraqi sources said Nuaimi was formerly a high-ranking intelligence officer in Saddam Hussein’s intelligence services, which CNN cannot independently confirm.
The news comes as the UN human rights office reported new details of alleged atrocities by ISIS fighters in Mosul this week as the coalition tries to retake the city, including the deaths of at least 60 civilians.
Bodies left on streets
ISIS shot and killed 40 civilians Tuesday in Mosul after accusing them of “treason and collaboration” with Iraqi security forces, according to a report released Friday by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
“The victims were dressed in orange clothes marked in red with the words: ‘traitors and agents of the ISF.’ Their bodies were then hung on electrical poles in several areas in Mosul city,” the report said.
The United Nations said a 27-year-old man was reportedly publicly shot to death Tuesday evening in central Mosul’s Bab al-Jideed neighborhood for using a mobile phone.
On Wednesday evening, ISIS reportedly killed 20 civilians at the Ghabat military base in northern Mosul on charges of leaking information, the UN body said. “Their bodies were also hung at various intersections in Mosul, with notes stating: ‘decision of execution’ and ‘used cell phones to leak information to the ISF.’ ”
The UN report tallies with what witnesses have told CNN.
Iraqi military intelligence sources told CNN that ISIS executed seven men, whom they had accused of spying for the Iraqi military, in the western part of the city. The men, who were dressed in orange jumpsuits, were the latest victims of an ongoing campaign of terror by the militant group in Mosul.
Jihadists have been killing suspected Iraqi security forces collaborators since Monday, witnesses said. All the victims have been male, the witnesses said, and have been shot in the head.
Some witnesses said dozens of bodies are being left at intersections across the city — stark warnings to residents not to collaborate with the incoming Iraqi forces. They are not being removed as residents fear reprisals from ISIS militants.
The corpses have been seen in areas on both sides of the city, among them the Zuhur and Karama neighborhoods in the east, and the old city on the west side of the Tigris River.
CNN cannot independently confirm the accounts.
UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein cited “heartbreaking images” of ISIS forcing children to carry out executions and reports of women being “redistributed” among ISIS fighters, as evidence of the “numbing and intolerable” suffering of civilians in Mosul and other ISIS-held areas.
He called on Iraqi authorities to ensure the perpetrators of such abuses are dealt with according to the rule of law so as to limit revenge attacks and help communities rebuild.
As the battle for the beleaguered northern Iraqi city wears on, sources said that two Mosul residents were killed when an ISIS mortar attack intended for Iraqi troops hit homes in the Kirkukli neighborhood.
More than 1,200 militants have been killed by the security forces since the start of the offensive October 17, according to a statement from the Iraqi federal police.
At the same time, as many as 10,000 families have been freed from ISIS rule and 56 oil wells have also been “liberated” from ISIS control, the statement added.
Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units troops, a loose coalition of militia, have been advancing toward Tal Afar, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) west of Mosul. The advance is proceeding “slowly but firmly,” the group said.
Car bombs, booby traps
As troops battle through the narrow, dense streets of Mosul, witnesses said that ISIS is positioning car bombs among houses in the neighborhoods of al Baker, Aden and al Intisar.
Ongoing clashes in Aden were reported Thursday evening, following airstrikes that hit ISIS positions.
Witnesses said that one such device was detonated as Iraqi forces approached, destroying seven houses. It is unclear whether there were any casualties.
Also in the city’s east, residents said ISIS militants were forcing them from their homes, either to booby trap them or to take them over as fighting positions. Militants have reportedly left barrels of crude oil at major intersections, ready to be set afire to hamper Iraqi advances.
Teens trained to fight for ISIS
Local ISIS commanders have started fleeing in some neighborhoods, residents said, leaving behind trained teenage ISIS combatants to fight Iraqi forces.
Mosul residents said they fear these young fighters as much, if not more, than other ISIS militants because they have been brainwashed, have no fear and have a great amount of zealotry after being indoctrinated and trained for two years.
Meanwhile, residents recovered personal documents from a damaged building after what witnesses described as an airstrike on an ISIS police center in the eastern al Qazah neighborhood.
Among the documents were said to be identification cards, lists of residents’ names compiled by ISIS and SIM cards confiscated by the militants two weeks ago.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi vowed victory last month at the start of the long-awaited offensive on Mosul, but he warned the effort could take time.
ISIS, an agile enemy, has been preparing its defenses for two years. It takes advantage of the terrain, a network of tunnels and booby-trapped buildings, to great effect.
US military officials estimate some 3,000 to 5,000 ISIS fighters are in Mosul. An additional 1,500 to 2,000 fighters may be waiting outside the city limits.