Ever since the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group took control of Mosul last June, residents inside the city walls have reported the strict new religious order. Christians and Shiites have been forced out, children are being indoctrinated through public education to become future extremists, and both women and men are compelled to comply with narrow rules of appropriate dress.
"We are living in the Dark Ages," Mosul resident Hala Nassar said, speaking to USA Today. "We are stuck in a big prison hoping to be free."
Adding to the surreal nature of life under militant rule, new reports surfacing on Monday suggest that even top IS officials aren’t spared from violence. Abu Usman al-Hassan, one of the top IS commanders in Mosul, and personal representative to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been executed on charges of conspiracy.
"ISIS executed the commander inside Mosul after severe disagreements between him and a number of other commanders," an eyewitness told the Iraq Press, using an alternate acronym for the group. "He was accused of conspiring against the 'caliphate state.'"
Still, given Mosul’s current isolation, the precise reasons for Hassan’s death are difficult to ascertain. Saad Mamuzin, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s Mosul branch told the Iraq Press that the execution was the result of high-level disagreements over financial allocations and military posts.
ARA News, on the other hand, reported that Hassan was killed "following rifts between foreign and local [ISIL] militants."
Other sources, however, indicate that Hassan’s men had been transferred, and that there were no indications of further unrest within the ranks.
"Subsequent to the execution of the senior leader Abu Usman Hassan, the group sent nearly 250 fighters, mostly Syrians and from other Arab nationalities, to Raqqa – IS’ de facto capital in Syria," a source told ARA.
Reports also surfaced earlier on Tuesday the IS had beheaded two women in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights called this the “first time the Observatory has documented women being killed by the group in this manner,” according to Al Jazeera.