Published: Mon, May 29, 2017
Industry | By Faith Ward

Iraq's Iran-backed paramilitary force advances towards Syrian border

Iraqi armed forces launched an operation on Saturday to capture the last Islamic State-held enclave in Mosul, according to a military statement.

"It's a disaster", he said, adding that even before the battle, the residents of the Old City were among Mosul's poorest.

The bombing is the largest single instance of civilian deaths confirmed by the coalition in the almost three-year-old campaign against IS and brings the total number of civilians confirmed killed by the Pentagon in the IS fight to 457.

"Our forces are capable of winning the fight of the Old City and regaining the al-Nouri Mosque, and ISIS are losing control of the vital area close by al-Hadba minaret (adjacent to al-Nouri Mosque)".

Iraq's special forces suffered significant casualties in the fight for eastern Mosul and in the first weeks of the push on Mosul's west, Iraq's federal police - relatively inexperienced in urban combat - took a lead role in one of the city's most hard districts.

Military and political analysts expect that it could take several days for the Iraqi forces to gain hold of these territories, before making their final push for Mosul's Old City.

It's a combination of airstrikes, artillery, motars and of course ISIS suicide auto bombs that have leveled buildings and cost the lives of hundreds of civilians.

Iraqi forces on the roof of a house on the front line in the old city of western Mosul. Iraqi forces have been documented perpetrating torture, abductions, rape and murder.

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At least 15 Iraqi soldiers were killed in ISIL suicide attacks in the first day of the offensive, security sources said on Sunday.

"Iraqi troops were forced to withdraw from the town to avoid incurring heavy losses".

The Iraqi air force dropped leaflets on Friday urging residents in the enclave to flee, although humanitarian groups fear for the safety of civilians trying to escape.

When the operation to retake Mosul was launched last October, the United Nations estimated more than a million civilians were still living in the city.

Iraqi officials demanded compensation from the US -led coalition following an investigation into a March 17 airstrike in which the Pentagon acknowledged a USA bomb targeting Islamic State group fighters in Mosul set off a series of explosions that killed more than 100 civilians.

Police, counterterrorism and army units started storming the al-Zanjili district and headed toward the Old City, said federal police head, Lt. Gen. Ra'ed Shaker Jawdat.

The new push of the paramilitary forces began late Wednesday night and reportedly freed many villages scattered in north and west of Baaj.

In Erbil, east of Mosul, thousands of people have been brought to receive treatment, including many children.

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