March 9, 2017
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi pledged to target Daesh bases in neighboring countries, namely Syria, if they pose a threat to Iraq, AlKhaleejOnlne.com reported yesterday.
On the margin of his participation in a meeting in the north of the country, Al-Abadi said: “With all respect to the sovereignty of all countries, I will never hesitate to target Daesh bases in the neighboring countries after getting their permission.”
He warned that the continuous battles in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya would proliferate terror.
Regarding the losses caused to his country due to Daesh attacks, he said: “The cost of damages to infrastructure caused by Daesh is estimated at about $35 billion.”
Meanwhile, he called for the international community to contribute to rebuilding the country and regaining stability in the areas liberated from Daesh.
Al-Abadi also called for Iraqi forces to unite under a national umbrella that takes the responsibility of protecting the country.
“I call for uniting the Iraqi forces,” he said, “there should not be forces affiliating to parties or political sides, but Iraqi forces for all Iraqis.”
Source: Middle East Monitor.
MOSUL – Iraqi forces on Thursday thrust into Mosul airport on the southern edge of the jihadist stronghold for the first time since the Islamic State group overran the region in 2014.
Backed by jets, gunships and drones, forces blitzed their way across open areas south of Mosul and entered the airport compound, apparently meeting limited resistance but strafing the area for suspected snipers.
“Right now thank God we’re inside Mosul airport and in front of its terminal. Our troops are liberating it,” Hisham Abdul Kadhem, a commander in the interior ministry’s Rapid Response units, said inside the airport.
Little was left standing inside the perimeter and what used to be the runway was littered with dirt and rubble.
Most buildings were completely leveled but Iraqi forces celebrated the latest landmark in the four-month-old offensive to retake Mosul.
While Iraqi forces were not yet deployed in the northern part of the sprawling airport compound and sappers cautiously scanned the site for explosive devices, IS appeared to offer limited resistance.
As Iraqi forces approached the airport moments earlier, attack helicopters fired rockets at an old sugar factory that stands next to the perimeter wall, sending a cloud of ash floating across the area.
The push on the airport was launched at dawn and Iraqi forces stormed it within hours from the southwest.
– US forces –
The regional command said elite forces from the Counter-Terrorism Service were simultaneously attacking the neighboring Ghazlani military base, where some of them were stationed before IS seized Mosul in June 2014.
Control of the base and airport would set government forces up to enter Mosul neighborhoods on the west bank of the Tigris, a month after declaring full control of the east bank.
All of the city’s bridges across the river are damaged.
The US-led coalition has played a key role in supporting Iraqi forces with air strikes and advisers on the ground, and on Thursday US forces were seen on the front lines.
The American troops are not supposed to be doing the actual fighting but in recent weeks have got so close to the front that they have come under attack, coalition spokesman Colonel John Dorrian said.
“They have come under fire at different times, they have returned fire at different times, in and around Mosul,” Dorrian told reporters on Wednesday.
He declined to say if there had been any US casualties in the attacks, but an unnamed official later told CNN that several personnel had been evacuated from the battlefield.
The latest push to retake Mosul, the country’s second city and the last stronghold of the jihadists in Iraq, was launched on Sunday and involves thousands of security personnel.
They started closing in on the airport four days ago. It is unclear how many jihadists tried to defend the airport but US officials said Monday that only around 2,000 remain in Mosul.
There are an estimated 750,000 civilians trapped on the city’s west bank, which is a bit smaller than the east side but more densely populated.
It includes the Old City and its narrow streets, which will make for a difficult terrain when Iraqi forces reach it because they will be impassable for some military vehicles.
– Letters from the east –
The noose has for months now been tightening around Mosul and the living conditions for civilians are fast deteriorating.
Residents reached by phone spoke of dwindling food supplies forcing many families to survive on just one meal a day.
Medical workers say the weakest are beginning to die of the combined effect of malnutrition and the lack of medicines, which IS fighters are keeping for themselves.
An army plane late Wednesday dropped thousands of letters written by residents of the retaken east bank to their fellow citizens across the river.
“Be patient and help each other… the end of injustice is near,” read one of them which was signed “People from the east side.”
“Stay in your homes and cooperate with the security forces. They are your brothers, they came to liberate you,” read another.
A smaller than expected proportion of the east side’s population fled when Iraqi forces stormed it nearly four months ago but the United Nations is bracing for a bigger exodus from the west.
It had said 250,000 people or more could flee their homes on the west bank and has scrambled to set up new displacement camps around the city.
Source: Middle East Online.
February 22, 2017
BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s government-sanctioned paramilitary forces, made up mainly of Shiite militiamen, have launched a new push to capture villages west of the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants.
The forces’ spokesman, Ahmed al-Asadi, said on Wednesday that the villages are located southwest of the town of Tal Afar, still held by the Islamic State group. He didn’t provide details but the move by the umbrella group of mostly Shiite militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces is likely coordinated with government effort to recapture western part of Mosul from IS.
Iraqi government forces this week took a hilltop area overlooking the Mosul city airport. The Shiite militias already hold a small airport outside Tal Afar, which is s located some 93 miles (150 kilometers) east of the Syrian border.
February 19, 2017
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi forces launched an operation Sunday to retake the western half of Mosul from the Islamic State group. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of the operation early Sunday morning on state television, saying government forces were moving to “liberate the people of Mosul from Daesh oppression forever”, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
Southwest of Mosul, near the city’s IS-held airport, plumes of smoke were seen rising into the sky as coalition aircraft bombed militant positions. Further south at an Iraqi base, federal police forces were gathering and getting ready to move north.
Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul last month, but the west remains in the hands of entrenched extremists. Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, is roughly split in half by the Tigris River. The battle for Mosul’s western half is expected to be prolonged and difficult, due to denser population and older, narrower streets.
February 18, 2017
An Iraqi human rights organization has called on urgent help to prevent a “humanitarian catastrophe” after it said that approximately 25 children had passed away after starving to death in areas west of Mosul due to a lack of support from the central authorities in Baghdad or the international community.
The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR), based in Iraq itself, said that “the [western] half of the city of Mosul, where 140,000 children live, is afflicted by starvation after food supplies ran out, along with a lack of milk and a lack of potable water.”
The IOHR said that, as a result, children were dying of hunger and thirst.
The Observatory also confirmed that they had seen evidence that 25 children had died of starvation in January alone, as Daesh extremists and the Iraqi government, backed by the US-led coalition and Iran-backed Shia jihadists, fight over Mosul.
Women in Mosul were also starving, and therefore mothers were finding it extremely hard to produce milk to breastfeed their children, leading to an ever deteriorating situation in Iraq’s second city.
The IOHR called on the Iraqi government and international aid organisations to do more to “open up air corridors in order to drop milk and foodstuffs for starving children in the western half of the city of Mosul,” adding that the Iraqi government must “prevent the exacerbation of child mortality rates that has arisen due to starvation.”
“[The Iraqi government] must also prevent Daesh from succeeding in its plan to besiege civilians in Mosul,” the IOHR said in a statement.
The Observatory also called upon the provincial authorities of Ninawa province to do more to challenge Baghdad and the United Nations, and to encourage them to support the people of Mosul who have been victims of not only Daesh extremists, but also Iraqi regime bombardment and the depravations of Shia jihadists.
Source: Middle East Monitor.
MOSUL – Iraqi forces have thwarted an attempt by around 200 jihadist fighters to flee their bastion of Tal Afar towards Syria, west of the city of Mosul, a security spokesman said Monday.
Forces from the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization), a paramilitary organisation dominated by Shiite militia groups, said the Islamic State group used tanks in their bid to break out of Tal Afar.
“The attack by the Daesh (IS) terrorist gangs started at around 7:00 pm (1600 GMT on Sunday), the fighting lasted around six hours,” their spokesman Ahmed al-Assadi said.
Hashed forces have been deployed in desert areas west of Mosul since federal forces launched a massive operation to retake the city from IS on October 17.
Their main goals are to retake Tal Afar, a Turkmen-majority city which is still held by IS, and to prevent the jihadists from being able to move men and equipment between Mosul and their strongholds in Syria.
“This was an attempt by Daesh to open a breach, flee to the Syria border and exfiltrate some leaders and fighters,” Assadi said.
He said that Hashed forces received support from army aviation helicopters when IS attacked them. He added that the fighting left around 50 IS members killed and 17 of their vehicles destroyed.
Assadi did not provide a casualty figure for the Hashed al-Shaabi following the attack, which took place around 20 kilometers (12 miles) southwest of Tal Afar.
IS jihadists are confined to a corridor between Tal Afar and Mosul by tens of thousands of forces deployed on several fronts.
After retaking the eastern side of Mosul last month, Iraqi forces are preparing to launch an assault on the west bank of the city.
The early stages of the Mosul offensive saw IS move fighters between Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqa, its other major urban stronghold, but their supply lines have now been cut off.
Source: Middle East Online.
January 24, 2017
BAGHDAD (AP) — The U.N. and several aid organizations say an estimated 750,000 civilians are still living under Islamic State rule in Mosul despite recent advances by Iraqi forces. Lise Grande, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said in a statement Tuesday that the cost of food and basic goods is soaring, water and electricity are intermittent and that some residents are forced to burn furniture to keep warm.
The statement was co-signed by 20 international and local aid groups operating in the country. Iraqi forces announced the liberation of eastern Mosul earlier this month as part of a three-month-old offensive aimed at driving the militants out of Iraq’s second largest city. The U.N. migration agency says the Mosul operation has displaced more than 140,000 people.