World Bulletin / News Desk
"ISIL is afraid that Mosul residents will use the Internet to inform the army as to the whereabouts of the group’s positions and strongholds in the city," the Iraqi army’s media unit said in a statement.
Ahmed Ali, the owner of a small Internet provider in Mosul said: "A few days ago, three ISIL militants came to my office and told me that Internet service had been cut citywide."
"They instructed me not to renew subscriptions for any of my clients," he said.
According to local witnesses, ISIL has recently set up small Internet centers throughout the city at which local residents can go online.
"But these centers are full of ISIL agents who monitor what people are looking at and who they communicate with," one local source, speaking anonymously due to fears for his safety, told Anadolu Agency.
Saif Khaled, a young Mosul resident, said: "While walking through the streets of Mosul, ISIL militants may suddenly demand your mobile phone and check your contacts."
"The people here are very cautious when talking to their relatives, especially regarding the situation in Mosul under ISIL rule," he added.
Omar Abdullah, a Mosul University professor and expert on Islamic groups said that ISIL "has recently come to understand how much the Iraqi security forces depend on information provided by Internet users -- especially when it comes to the locations of ISIL positions and sites".
"With this in mind," Abdullah noted, "the group decided to cut Internet access in Mosul before the Iraqi army launches its anticipated campaign to liberate the city."
Iraqi forces are currently preparing a major offensive aimed at retaking Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.
"Another reason [for the move] is that ISIL has seen its recent military defeats [elsewhere in Iraq] widely celebrated on social media sites," Abdullah said.
In June, Iraqi security forces announced the "total liberation" of the city of Fallujah from ISIL following a month-long military operation.
Iraq has suffered a devastating security vacuum since mid-2014, when ISIL captured vast swathes of territory in western and northern Iraq.
While the Iraqi army, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, has managed to retake much lost territory, the extremist group remains in firm control of several parts of the country.
*The names of Mosul residents referred to in this report have been changed to protect their identities.