ISIS Seeking to Destroy Televisions, Cell Phones to Control 'Access to Information'

By Susan Jones | February 23, 2017 | 10:56 AM EST

Smoke rises from the western side of Mosul following a U.S.-led coalition airstrike in Abu Saif outside the western side of Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/ Khalid Mohammed)

( - A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria said he’s seeing signs that ISIS fighters in Raqqah, Syria – the capital of their self-declared caliphate – “are beginning to feel the pressure."

“Specifically, they’re becoming increasingly paranoid” as Syrian Democratic Forces move in on them, Air Force Col. John Dorrian told reporters on Wednesday.

They've increased population control measures in Raqqah by seeking to remove or destroy televisions, searching houses for mobile phones and satellite dishes in order to maintain control of news and access to information about their losses.

These are not the actions of an enemy who feel they're winning, and that's because they're not. We're seeing reflections of pessimism among mid-level commanders and this world view is spreading to the rank-and-file fighters.

We're also commonly seeing reports of ISIS arresting and executing their fighters who try to abandon the fight or are suspected of collaborating with forces trying to liberate areas that ISIS controls. We're hearing typical reports that ISIS leaders understand their fate in Raqqah and they're moving their own families out of Raqqah and into towns and villages in the countryside, even as they detain civilians who attempt to do the same.

Elsewhere, Dorrian said the Iraqi security forces and federal police are advancing into west Mosul, “isolating the enemy inside the city,” and encountering “moderate resistance” along the way.

“As of close of business yesterday, the coalition had destroyed 23 mortar and artillery pieces that the enemy would have used to complicated the ISF advance in the first three days of operations,” Dorrian said.

By Thursday, Iraqi forces had taken control of the airport in Mosul, press reports said. The fight is expected to intensify as troops move further into the city.

According to the Associated Press, “Iraqi federal police units, backed by regular army forces, entered the airport Thursday morning, according to two police officials who said heavy clashes were underway hours later with IS militants hunkered down inside several airport buildings.

“The officials said coalition troops were with the advancing forces, though they didn't specify the nationalities of the foreign forces. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.”

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