Iraqi Shiite paramilitary units captured the northern province of Hatra, cutting off several desert tracks used by Islamic State to move between Iraq and Syria, the military. The operations in Hatra are carried out by Popular Mobilisation, a coalition of mostly Iranian-trained militias of Shi’ite volunteers formed in 2014 after Islamic State, a hardline Sunni group, overran a third of Iraq. The militias on Wednesday dislodged Islamic State from the ancient ruins of Hatra, which suffered great destruction under the militants’ three-year rule, a military spokesman said. Hatra, a city that flourished in the first century AD, lies 125 km (80 miles) south of Mosul, where the militants have been fighting off a U.S.-backed offensive since October. Hatra is also located west of Hawija, a region north of Baghdad still under Islamic State control. Popular Mobilisation, which operates with the approval of Iraq’s Shi’ite-led government, said the Hatra campaign aims at cutting off Islamic State’s routes between Hawija, Mosul and eastern Syria.
The Iraqi army’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) controlled on Sunday one of the biggest markets in Mosul, while Federal Police reached the boundaries of two districts in the western flank of the city, a security source has said. “CTS continued its advance in al-Tanak district, western Mosul and controlled al-Maash market, the biggest vegetables market in Nineveh province”, the source told Shafaq News. Meanwhile, “Federal Police controlled the Bab Ghaz yard in Sinjar, in west of Mosul, reaching to the boundaries of Zanjili and al-Borsa districts”. Lieutenant Colonel Rami al-Anbari, of Federal Police, said “the troops gained control on strategic buildings in regions of Bab al-Sarai, Ghazi street, Mahalat al-Badan, Mahalat al-Sheikh Mohamed in the Old City. Snipers were deployed on tops of the buildings”. “More than 30 Iraqi snipers were deployed across the borders of the Old City, in west of Mosul”, Anbari told Anadolu Agency, adding that it’s the first time that Federal Police deploys snipers during battles against the Islamic State militants since operations were first launched.
The service’s chief, Lt. Gen. Shaker Jawdat, said in a statement that his forces took over 62 targets assigned in western Mosul since the start of the security offensive. The troops killed hundreds of militants and destroyed 286 booby-trapped vehicles belonging to the group. Police forces evacuated 25.000 refugees from areas it had recaptured, Jawdat stated. Iraqi forces recaptured eastern Mosul in January after three months of fighting to retake the city that fell to Islamic State extremists in 2014. Police and supporting forces said recently they became closer to the Old City’s Nuri al-Kabir mosque, where IS supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of the group’s rule in Iraq and Syria. They had earlier recaptured the city’s airport and biggest military base besides several other districts since the launch of the campaign. The army’s leadership said recently government troops became in control over 50 percent of the region.
With an average of 45,000 people fleeing western Mosul as Iraqi forces fight to retake densely-populated neighborhoods from ISIS, the top UN humanitarian representative to Iraq described the strain put on the humanitarian community in the country as overwhelming and nearing a breaking point. “If pace of displacement accelerates further, to be absolutely frank, it’s going to stretch us to a breaking point”, Lise Grande told reporters in teleconference briefing on Thursday, adding that 45,000 people per week have been leaving the west.OCHR, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, stated that 13,350 people were displaced on March 3 alone. “We’re literally constructing around the clock”, Grande said, summarizing that when there’s a plot ready and a tent on it, mattresses inside, water and sanitation, humanitarian organizations inform the military that site is ready. Grande said 6,800 people left Mosul on Thursday, and there was space available for 24,000 people in displacement camps. “Tomorrow, if 20,000 people come out [in one day], there’s our capacity”, Grande said.
The jets received aim to support Iraqi forces in dislodging Islamic State (IS) militants from the city of Mosul. The T-50 fighter jets will soon participate in the military operations against IS terrorists, the statement said. The arrival of the new fighter jets comes as Iraqi security force backed by the anti-IS international coalition are carrying out a major offensive to drive out IS militants from its last major stronghold in and around Mosul.
The U.S.-led Coalition said Islamic State (ISIS) militants are now completely surrounded in Mosul by Iraqi security forces. Dorrian added that 60 percent of the territories that ISIS once controlled in Iraq have now been recaptured due to the cooperation between the Peshmerga and Iraqi security forces who, he said, are fighting bravely. He also said that Iraqi forces had now liberated 17 areas of western Mosul.
Pushing deeper into the key battleground, artilleries pounded areas in Dawas and Nabi Sheet, southwest of Mosul as federal police and the Ministry of Interior’s Rapid Response Units prepared to advance. Their operation to retake the eastern bank of the city, launched in mid-October with support from a U.S.-led coalition, took more than three months; civilians continued to flee in greater number as the fighting approached the densely populated old city, causing alarm at the camps for displaced people which are nearly full.
The United Nations Security Council was briefed behind closed doors on the situation in Mosul by U.N. aid chief Stephen O’Brien and U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Kim Won-soo that Islamic State had used chemical weapons in Mosul, where the militants are fighting an offensive by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces to retake the city. The talks aim to reach a political solution to a conflict which erupted in March 2011 and has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced many millions.
Speaking during the Sulaimani Forum at the American University of Iraqi The head of Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service said the end of the Mosul operation will mean the collapse of Islamic State in the country. Shaghati said Iraqi troops were trained to make the safety of civilians a priority, Iraqi forces help civilians while fighting ISIS. He have said that every division has a human rights lieutenant to monitor violations during operations: “I have dismissed soldiers for violating human rights,” he said. “We do not allow the violation of human rights. ISIS militants behead people and burn people to death to frighten people to avoid picking up a gun to fight against them”. “ISIS inspires death, we inspire life”, he added. “Our soldiers are full of energy, they are ready to make Mosul free of ISIS”.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul on Tuesday to meet Iraqi forces taking part in the offensive against Islamic State militants in the city, this is the first visit of Mosul since Iraqi forces began the operation to regain the city. (On November 25 last year, Abadi visited Bartela sub-district near Mosul city). Abadi promised the residents of areas under ISIS control that Iraq will defeat the militant group, adding that Iraqi forces were advancing on all fronts with no retreat: “the defeat is inevitable”. Abadi’s visit to Mosul comes after Iraqi security forces regained control of the government complex and the museum building in west Mosul on Tuesday after a successful overnight raid.