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The shadow of a member of the Iraqi Army's 9th Armoured Division is seen as he opens a steel gate to a room used as a cell for men, inside a compound used as a prison by Islamic State militants in July 17 district, in western Mosul, Iraq, June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis


By Alkis Konstantinidis

MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) - Islamic State built prison cells inside an ordinary villa in Mosul as part of the group's tactic of boosting the safety of its jails and security centres by concealing them among regular houses.

Despite their outward appearance, the jails had the regular attributes of state-run detention centres where inmates have their documents and belongings taken away when they arrive, to be given back to them if and when they are released.

A camera hanging in one cell where men were kept was linked to the guards' office. "This is to keep the prisoners subdued," said the Iraqi military intelligence officer showing the villa to journalists.

He said former members of the Iraqi armed forces were kept in this cell, along with Yazidis, the religious community who suffered the most under Islamic State because the hardline group considered them devil worshippers.

"Here they kept 'violators'" of their laws, he said. "But they are the real violators" in the eyes of Iraqi law, he added.

For Reuters photo essay, click: http://reut.rs/2s380Hc

(Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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