Fierce armed clashes between the advancing Iraqi troops and ISIS militants are taking place around the last four districts the group holds in the western half of Mosul embedded with the Iraqi army in western Mosul, Rudaw’s Ranja Jamal reported on Sunday that heavy confrontations are ongoing in Najar neighborhood as the army managed to break into it the area and have Bab al-Sinjar besieged. Abdulwahab Saadi, an official with the US-trained Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (ICTS), told Rudaw that large segments of Najar were controlled by the ICTS forces, who had begun to advance on Bab al-Sinjar. Saadi said ISIS militants were putting up stiff resistance given they are on the brink of final defeat in Mosul. Plumes of smoke could be seen covering the skyline over Najar neighborhood as ISIS was being bombed on the ground and from the air. ICTS officials said in a press conference on Saturday that Najar neighborhood remained for them to liberate and their mission would be accomplished in western Mosul after they took control of 47 neighborhoods in the western half of the city of Mosul in the course of the last three months. Saadi explained to Rudaw that ISIS retains control of just four neighborhoods overall in Mosul, including the Old Mosul district, Shifa, Saha, and Bab al-Sinjar. SIS has placed a large number of militants in these four remaining places, he added. Old Mosul remains the last stronghold of ISIS in the city. In previous battles the army faced strong resistance when they tried to make advances against ISIS militants in Old Mosul, a more densely populated neighborhood with narrow streets. As a result, Iraqi armed forces were forced to shift their focus and instead open a new front in northwestern Mosul. raqi armed forces launched a massive assault on ISIS held districts in northwestern Mosul over the weekend.
The mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi forces are engaged in clashes with the ISIS militants in the Yezidi villages of Tal Banat and Tal Qasab, west of Mosul, as they continue their newest offensive for a third day in a row. They are working to recapture the remaining areas still under control of the extremist group near the Syrian border. The paramilitary force, backed by the Iraqi air force and the Iraqi army, had entered the Yezidi village of Tal Banat Sunday morning that fell to ISIS militants in late 2014, Rudaw’s Peshawa Pahlawi reported in the outskirts of the village. Dust and black smoke have been rising in the skylines of Tal Banat, located southeast of Shingal district. Rudaw’s Tahsin Qasim, also reporting on the ground, said that the paramilitary have surrounded Tal Qasab, another Yezidi village in the area. They Shiite force claimed Sunday afternoon that they have liberated Khilu village, west of Tal Qasab. The Shiite forces had declared that they liberated 10 villages on Saturday, including Tal Banat. They also reported that the main Shingal-Qairawan road fell to their forces the day before. With the advances made Saturday, the forces claim that they are surrounding Qairawan from three sides, to the north, east and south. The forces are now 3 km away from Qairawan, south of Shingal. The main objective for the fresh offesnive is Qairawan and Baa’j located west of Mosul and close to the Syrian border, commander of the Hashd al-Shaabi Mahdi al-Muhandis said on Friday. Muhandis added that the operation was to achieve its objectives within the “next 48 or 72 hours”.
The Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary force declared on Saturday it had captured four villages and a main road connecting the Yezidi area of Shingal to the ISIS-held town of Qairawan west of Mosul in northern Iraq. This comes as the Federal Police represented by the elite rapid Response Force and the Iraqi army liberated the entire Haramat district northwest of the city on Saturday, read a military statement, adding that with this progress on the battlefield they are now in full control of “the western and southern bank of the Tigris River” in Western Mosul. The 16th Division of the Iraqi army has also liberated Hawi Kanisa, again in the northwest of the city, another military statement read. A statement from the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary reported that the main Shingal-Qairawan road has fallen to their forces and they are now just 3 kilometers from the center of the ISIS-held town of Qairawan. It also announced that some 40 families were rescued from four liberated villages around Qairawan including Um Hijra, Mughaira, Abid and Khinaisi. Rudaw’s Tahsim Qasim, reporting near Qairawan, south of Shigal, reported heavy clashes between the paramilitary, backed by the Iraqi air force, and the ISIS militants. Qasim added that the mainly Shiite force had the Yezidi village of Tal Banat besieged as they continued to bomb the ISIS positions.
Iraqi forces continue to engage in intensive fighting against ISIS militants for the third day in northwestern areas of Mosul after it opened a new front against the extremist group last Thursday. Rudaw’s cameras have captured large plumes of smoke rising over the skyline of western Mosul Saturday as Iraqi forces, backed by their fighter jets and that of the US-led global coalition, bombed ISIS positions in the last remaining districts northwest of the city, and the now ISIS stronghold of Old Mosul. Brigadier General Yahya Rassol, the spokesperson for Iraq’s joint command, told Rudaw Friday that their forces now controll Mushairafa One, Two and Three, Mikhail Monastery northwest of Mosul, as well as Hawi Kanisa. Continued clashes have been reported Saturday morning in some of these acclaimed liberated districts, with ISIS using at least one car bomb, Rudaw’s Sidad Lashkri who is embedded with Iraqi forces reported from Mosul. The Iraqi forces had faced strong resistance when they tried to make advances against the ISIS militants in Old Mosul, where it is more densely populated and the streets are narrower than the eastern part of the city. As a result, Iraqi armed forces were forced to shift the focus and instead open a new front in northwestern Mosul. The ISIS militants are now “besieged” in all areas they control in Mosul and are “under the fireline” of the Iraqi forces, Brig. Gen. Rasool told Rudaw. He also said that they have so far captured 70 percent of western Mosul, adding that ISIS territory has shrunk significantly compared to what it once was more than two and a half years ago. He said ISIS used to control 40 percent of Iraq when it captured large parts of the country, including Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. It now controls less than 7 percent, he noted. ISIS is still in control of the Turkmen town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, Hawija,south of Kirkuk, and several places in the Anbar province west of the country, including al-Qaim and Rawa, near the Syrian border. Commenting on an Iraqi airstrike that ISIS claimed killed scores of civilians, Rassol denied the accusations.
Iraq’s National Coalition Chief, Ammar al-Hakim, said on Wednesday that Israel would be the only country to recognize a Kurdish state if it were declared. Hakim stated the U.S. administration has repeatedly declared its commitment to the territorial integrity of Iraq. He added Iraqi officials have received assurances from the new U.S. administration of its commitment to the unity of Iraq, as well as the commitment of previous administrations. Iraq’s Shi’ite ruling coalition would oppose Kurdish plans to hold a referendum on independence of Kurdistan Region after the defeat of Islamic State, its president, Ammar al-Hakim, has said. Hakim said Kurdish officials have a 70-year ambition to announce a Kurdish state, which could continue for another decade whether it were achieved or not. Kurds seek self-determination to have their own state having a logic that they can have a country the way Arabs have 22 countries as well as Turks and Persians who have their own countries, Hakim added.
Speaking on International Mine Awareness Day on Tuesday, Agnes Marcaillou, director of the United Nations Mine Action Service, said making huge swathes of Iraq and Syria habitable again after ISIS had laid landmines would involve an effort of ”huge magnitude”, and that it could cost upwards of $180 million a year. The effort in Mosul alone could cost $50 million annually the U.N. official warned. As Iraqi forces continue to liberate areas from the ultra-hardline Sunni militant group in the country, they encounter territories planted with hidden mines and explosives, ensuring that even after ISIS has been forced from the land, a dangerous legacy lives on in the soil. The Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA) announced on Tuesday (April 4) however that 65% of the Kurdistan Region’s land that had been afflicted with landmines and other unexploded ordnance has now been cleared by demining teams.
Troops are set to back the Iraqi forces in an upcoming offensive to dislodge ISIS in Anbar’s western town of Qaem and areas around the military base. U.S.-backed Iraqi forces currently control over one third of western Mosul and are pushing deeper into the city, encountering fierce counter-attacks from the ultra-hardline group that has slowed progress. The assault on Mosul, the jihadists’ last major stronghold in Iraq, was launched by a 100,000-strong alliance of local forces on Oct. 17 that has become the biggest military operation in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. The offensive to recapture west Mosul started three weeks ago.
The site was revealed by an eyewitness, an unidentified member of Hashid Shaabi, a state-run umbrella for Shia paramilitary groups. Human Rights Watch said in a report that as many as 600 people were killed in the Badush prison massacre, which took place on the same day that ISIS militants captured Mosul in June 2014. There, they separated a few Sunni and Christian inmates from the rest, who were overwhelmingly Shia, before forcing them to form one long line along the edge of a ravine and machine-gunning them down.
Scores of civilians fled western Mosul on Thursday while Iraqi forces fought Islamic State militants in the group’s stronghold uring bad weather in the early hours. Civilians from Maamoun district fleeing the fighting gathered at a petrol station at Hammam al-Alil junction. Men were separated and taken for a security screening while women and children sat together waiting to board buses which would take them to Hammam al-Alil, south of Mosul. The residents will be housed in two camps, Hammam al-Alil camp and Jada camp set up by the Iraq government to serve as temporary shelter.
U.S.-backed Iraqi forces pushed deeper into western Mosul on Sunday, aiming to capture a bridge across the Tigris which would link the city’s government-held eastern bank with the ongoing offensive against remaining militants in the west.All were damaged in strikes by the U.S.-led air coalition, and later by Islamic State fighters trying to seal off the western bank still under their control). The Colonel Falah al-Wabdan of the Interior Ministry’s Rapid Response unit have said that the bridge is very important: The bridge is about 400 meters away. By the end of the day you will hear that our forces have arrived (there).”, this is his prognostication. Army engineers plan to rehabilitate the bridge to allow troops to bring in reinforcements and supplies directly from the eastern side.