German prosecutors are checking reports whether a 16-year-old teenager - identified as Linda W - was among five women arrested in Mosul for supporting Daesh. Meanwhile, officials warn that Daesh could fight a guerrilla warfare next.

Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Daesh militants, are seen at a police headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul.
Vehicles used for suicide car bombings, made by Daesh militants, are seen at a police headquarters after being confiscated in Mosul.

German prosecutors are checking reports that a 16-year-old German teenager under investigation for supporting Daesh was among five women arrested in the Iraqi city of Mosul, media reports said.

Iraq declared victory over Daesh in Mosul on July 10, though clashes continue in parts of the Old City.

The German-language Die Welt newspaper said that the five women had been detained during the military operations in the city, and it identified the German teenager only as Linda W.

Lorenz Haase, chief prosecutor for the state of Saxony, said that officials were investigating whether the 16-year-old was the same teenager who went missing last summer from the small town of Pulsnitz, near the eastern German city of Dresden.

Unclear if the girl is German

An Iraqi official said he believed the teenager arrested was not German but of Slavic origin, possibly Russian.

He said she had been taken to a hospital for burns and was in the custody of Iraqi security services, adding that they would likely hand her over to her country's diplomatic mission and not keep in Iraq.

Haase said that the German teenager had travelled to Turkey about a year ago with the apparent goal of reaching Iraq or Syria. Security officials later lost her trail but, new evidence has now emerged in the case, Haase said.

Die Welt said the girl had converted to Islam shortly before she disappeared and had been in contact with Daesh via Internet chats.

The BfV domestic intelligence agency, which had no immediate comment on Die Welt report, estimates that 930 people have left Germany in recent years to join Daesh in Iraq and Syria. Around 20 percent are women.

Minors account for about 5 percent of the total number, of which half are female.

A French diplomat said the French wife of a suspected Daesh fighter and her four children had been detained in the ruins of Mosul 10 days ago and that France was ready to offer consular services. The husband is still missing.

Another Mosul village recaptured

Iraqi forces on Thursday regained control over Imam Gharbi, a village south of Mosul, from Daesh militants, Iraqi police said.

The action formed part of the next phase of the US-backed government's campaign to drive Daesh from Iraq and dismantle their self-proclaimed caliphate.

Police Colonel Kareem Aboud said that the government forces took full control of Imam Gharbi at dawn where they discovered the bodies of two Iraqi journalists who were killed there shortly after the militants attacked.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over Daesh in Mosul after a nine-month battle, marking the biggest defeat for the group since its lightning sweep through northern Iraq three years ago.

But the militants seized most of Imam Gharbi, on the western bank of the Tigris River about 70 km south of Mosul, in the kind of strike they are now expected to make as Iraqi forces regain control over cities the group captured during its 2014 offensive.

Stripped of Mosul, Daesh's dominion in Iraq will be reduced to mainly rural, desert areas west and south of the city.

Daesh also faces pressure in its operational base in the Syrian city of Raqqa, where the US-backed militia has seized territory on three sides of the city.

Iraqi army are photographed with a Daesh flag, claimed after fighting with militants in western Mosul (Reuters)
Iraqi army are photographed with a Daesh flag, claimed after fighting with militants in western Mosul (Reuters)

Guerrilla warfare in the offing?

There are fears, however, that Daesh militants reinvented themselves months before the Iraqi forces seized Mosul, to prepare the ground for a guerrilla fight.

Intelligence and local officials said that, a few months ago, they noticed a growing stream of commanders and fighters flowing out of the city to the Hamrin mountains in northeast Iraq which offer hideouts and access to four Iraqi provinces.

"They are digging in. They have easy access to the capital," Lahur Talabany, a top counter-terrorism official said. "I believe we have tougher days coming."

"They'll [Daesh militants] try to hide with the population. Their cells will get smaller – instead of companies and platoons, they'll go to squads and cells, much smaller elements hiding in the population," said Lieutenant-General Steve Townsend, commander of the US-led coalition.

"Our Iraqi security force partners will have to engage in counter-insurgency style operations at some point and we're already making efforts now to start shaping their training towards that next ISIS [Daesh] tactic."

Former Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari said that the notion of a caliphate is gone and Daesh "will revert back to their old tactics of hit and run attacks".

HRW says execution site discovered

International observers have discovered an execution site in west Mosul, Human Rights Watch said on Thursday.

That report, combined with new statements about executions in and around Mosul's Old City and persistent documentation about Iraqi forces extrajudicially killing men fleeing Mosul in the final phase of the battle against Daesh, are an urgent call to action by the Iraqi government, HRW said.

Despite repeated promises to investigate wrongdoing by security forces, Prime Minister Haider al Abadi has yet to demonstrate that Iraqi authorities have held a single soldier accountable for murdering, torturing, and abusing Iraqis in this conflict, the global rights watchdog said.

"As Prime Minister Abadi enjoys victory in Mosul, he is ignoring the flood of evidence of his soldiers committing vicious war crimes in the very city he's promised to liberate," said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East director.

"Abadi's victory will collapse unless he takes concrete steps to end the grotesque abuses by his own security forces."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday urged Iraq to investigate claims of human rights abuses that emerged after the military operations in Mosul.

Source: Reuters