SAS snipers, who were part of mopping up campaigns after the fall of Mosul, managed to save a Christian family merely seconds away from being decapitated by Islamic State militants for refusing to convert to Islam.
The incident happened in July, but details of the operations only surfaced last week. SAS and Peshmerga fighters conducted the raid after learning that ISIS militants were killing Christian families. Two snipers fired at the black-clad terrorists who held knives at the throats of a man and his son, The Daily Star detailed.
Using rifles capable of hitting a target from up to 1,800 meters, the snipers instantly killed the two executioners with head shots from a range of around 1,000 meters. They later took out two more ISIS gunmen.
"It was a chance encounter. The SAS patrol just happened to be in the right place at the right time. The killers were moving around the area executing villagers. Muslim families were accused of being spies and Christians who refused to convert to Islam were beheaded," a defense source told the Daily Star. "When the snipers opened fire everyone just froze. But after four terrorists were dropped the rest of the gunmen tried to run and began firing in all directions. Only the family stood still."
In addition, the source said the ISIS gunmen attempted to flee, but the snipers also shot dead their driver and those in the execution squad who had boarded the vehicle. The Peshmerga fighters later rescued the family and transported them safely away from the area.
Meanwhile, it has been three months since Mosul was liberated from ISIS, and the city is now trying to recover its former vibrant environment. Local photographer and university professor Ali al-Baroodi told Al Jazeera that the residents were keen on getting rid of the "ideology of oppression" that the militant group had previously imposed.
Northeastern University professor Shakir Mustafa, who grew up in Mosul but is now based in the United States, described ISIS' burning of its cultural centers and objects as a deliberate act of destruction. He noted that all cultural activities were banned during the time that the extremist group ruled in the Iraqi city.