Iraqi forces in last stages of defeating IS in western Mosul: PM

Toby Manning
June 1, 2017

Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services (CTS) advance in west Mosul's al-Saha neighbourhood on May 29, 2017 during their ongoing battle to retake the city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters.

On the Syrian side of the border, US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, IS militants and Syrian rebels are fighting for territory.

The bomber struck just days after the start of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, during which Iraqis often stay out late shopping or socialising after breaking their daily fast. No group immediately claimed those attacks.

As humanitarian concerns over Mosul civilians grow, Iraqi forces close in on ISIL positions despite strong resistance.

On May 18, a USA airstrike hit pro-Syrian government forces that the US -led coalition said posed a threat to American troops and allied rebels operating near the border with Jordan.

Iraqi forces are more than seven months into a massive operation to recapture the city from IS, and have already taken back its whole eastern side and much of the west.

According to a Hashd Shaabi units statement, they pushed to the border line on Monday morning from the newly-freed town of al-Qahtaniyah, some 18 km east of the Syrian border, making their first arrival to the border line in south of Sinjar mountain. Fighters from Lebanon's Hizballah also work closely with Iranian military commanders in Syria.

She said that the United Nations estimates there are between 180,000 and 200,000 civilians in extremist-held areas of Mosul, the majority of them in the Old City area.

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Backed by the US -led global coalition, Iraq last October launched a wide-scale military offensive to recapture Mosul and the surrounding areas, with various Iraqi military, police and paramilitary forces taking part in the operation.

Government forces have been dropping leaflets over the districts telling families to flee, but many have remained out of fear of getting caught in the crossfire.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

"We have been informed by authorities that the evacuation is not compulsory".

Two vehicle bombs killed at least 20 people in Baghdad and wounded about 80 others in streets packed with crowds preparing for the Ramadan fast early on Tuesday (May 30), security sources said.

"People who choose to flee will be directed to safe routes".

The Iraqi Army's Nineveh Operations Chamber announced on Tuesday the liberation of 54 neighbourhoods in Mosul since February. A total of 236 people have died in recent attacks on French soil, including the November 2015 attacks in Paris, and July 2016 truck-ramming in Nice.

The latest advance is part of a major offensive created to secure the border areas with neighbouring Syria and cut off the IS supply routes between Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of the IS caliphate.

Other reports by VgToday

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