The number of people displaced from the western side of Mosul has reached up to 281,000 since operations were launched in February to retake that region from Islamic State militants, according to the Iraqi government. The Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement said in a statement on Monday that the “Number of the displaced civilians from western Mosul went up to 281,630 persons, and those were distributed among the ministry camps in the south and east of the city”. “The ministry teams received today 6,855 displaced persons from the west of Nineveh. They were provided shelter at camps of al-Narkezliya, al-Jadaa, al-Haj Ali, al-Madraj, al-Khazer, Hassan Sham and Jamkour”, it added.The statement also indicated that “the ministry provided all essential needs of food and medical requirements at stores, in case more families were displaced from western Mosul”.
In a highly unusual move, Israel shut down the Taba Crossing to Israelis trying to enter Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on the eve of Passover on Monday, citing fears of an imminent terror attack by the Islamic State terror group. Israel announced the closure of the border for at least one week (until next Thursday). However, thousands of Israelis were expected to pass the border for the Passover Holidays. The closure was ordered by Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz, after discussion with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and other security officials. Since the official opening of the border in 1982, it had been closed few times, the last one had been in 2014.
Islamic State fighters have killed several civilians over collaboration with security troops, southwest of Kirkuk, a security source in the province. “The so-called head of the legislative court in al-Hawija district (55 KM southwest of Kirkuk) ordered hanging some civilians, who were detained by the militants few days ago over spying for the troops”, an anonymous source told BasNews on Thursday without giving details on the number of the victims. “The execution took place today at one of IS camps near Hawija”, the source said, adding that the bodies of the victims were not handed to their relatives. Hawija is a strategic town which has fallen into the hands of IS since mid-2014. Iraqi authorities postponed an operation to liberate the town last year, instead they moved onto central Mosul. The Iraqi government is expected to launch an offensive to retake IS-occupied areas in Kirkuk once it is done with eradicating IS from Mosul, the group’s biggest bastion in Iraq.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, flew into Iraq on Monday with the top U.S. military officer to get a first-hand assessment of the battle against Islamic State from U.S. commanders on the ground and to meet Iraqi officials. For Kushner, who has not been to Iraq before, the trip comes at a critical time as Trump examines ways to accelerate a U.S.-led coalition campaign that U.S. and Iraqi officials say has so far been largely successful in uprooting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. The visit appears to demonstrate the far-reaching portfolio of Kushner, 36, who is part of Trump’s innermost circle and who has been given a wide range of domestic and foreign policy responsibilities, including working on a Middle East peace deal.
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) liberated two villages from Islamic State (ISIS) control during the third phase of the Operation Wrath of Euphrates to isolate the ISIS-held Syrian city of Raqqa. The two villages are situated near Swediyah al-Kabirah to the west of Raqqa. The SDF are currently advancing towards Raqqa on three fronts, and while progress during the third phase has been rapid, some fierce clashes have broken out as ISIS militants look to stem the SDF’s advance. After cutting several strategic roads, the SDF are moving closer to their aim of surrounding and isolating the Syrian city entirely, in anticipation of an operation to liberate the city from the jihadist group. That operation is believed to start within the coming weeks. The SDF, a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters who have been successfully fighting ISIS in northern Syria, has been steadily moving in on the jihadist group in Raqqa for the past five months. The operation to isolate the ISIS-stronghold of Raqqa began on November 5, 2016.
A single terrorist attacked Westminster killing four people, included a police officier and wounding 40 other civilians, before being killed. He indiscriminately ran into people with a car on Westminster Bridge. The use of the vehicle to attack civilians was a direct copy of an Islamic State tactic used previously with murderous effect in Nice and Berlin. The initial working theories of the police investigation are the attacker was inspired by Isis and was most likely a “lone actor”.
The U.S.-led coalition has air-dropped U.S. and allied Syrian forces near Tabqa in Raqqa province, expanding a campaign by the Syrian Democratic Forces militias against Islamic State, the SDF said on Wednesday. The operation aims both to capture the al-Tabqa area, across the Euphrates from the SDF’s other main holdings, and to curb Syrian government advances in that direction, the SDF’s Raqqa campaign said in a statement on social media. The landing forces had seized four small villages in the area west of al-Tabqa and cut a main highway that links the provinces of Raqqa, Deir al-Zor and Aleppo, the SDF, a U.S.-backed alliance of militias added.
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.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been investigating an Islamic State Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) cell known as the “Dokumacılar” since a suicide attack killed two U.S. citizens and two others on Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue on March 19, 2016, according to revelations from a case file at the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office. Five suspects from the attack were put on trial by the Istanbul 23rd Court of Serious Crimes in connection with the attack.