Iraqi police displayed 23 vehicles that had been turned into car bombs and also an anti-aircraft gun, all captured from ISIS militants during the battle for the city of Mosul, as government forces continued to face pockets of resistance from the terrorist group in the Old City.
The vehicles shown to the media were mostly civilian cars, covered in thick metal armor, with small glass ports for a driver to see through, and had been equipped with bombs.
They appear similar to vehicles used in apparent suicide attacks shown in ISIS propaganda.
Many had been painted in camouflage or blue, the color of Iraqi Federal Police vehicles, in a bid to fool surveillance aircraft into mistaking them for Iraqi forces’ vehicles.
“Heroes of the Emergency Rapid Division and the Federal Police seized these cars in successful night raids,” Iraqi Federal Police captain Bassam Hillo Kadhim said.
Most eye-catching among the vehicles was a tank turret, complete with its gun, mounted on the back of a large truck, which police officials said had been designed to target military aircraft and ground troops from a distance. Iraqi forces plan to destroy the vehicles.
On Friday, Iraqi forces were still facing pockets of resistance from ISIS in Mosul’s Old City, four days after the prime minister declared victory over the militants.
Iraqi army helicopters flew overhead and explosions could be heard, residents said.
“Three mortars landed on our district,” a resident of Faysaliya, in east Mosul, just across the Tigris river, said by telephone.
A few hundred ISIS insurgents swept into Mosul three years ago, imposed a reign of terror after the Iraqi army collapsed and declared a so-called “caliphate” spanning Iraqi and Syrian territory seized in a shock offensive.
The victory of US-backed Iraq forces in Mosul marked the biggest defeat for ISIS, which is under siege in the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, its operational base.
But the Mosul fighting took a heavy toll on residents.
More than a million people were displaced from Mosul, but nearly 200,000 have returned home, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement.
Out of nearly 1.05 million people who fled the fighting after the offensive against ISIS began last October, 825,000 remain displaced.
The city had an estimated population of two million in 2014.
IOM’s chief of mission in Iraq, Thomas Lothar Weiss, said the new displacement figures underscored “the enormous crisis” in the area.