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Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

A place to talk about domestic politics in Middle East (Iran, Iraq , Turkey, Syria) Also includes topics about Assyrian, Armenian, Chaldean .

Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Mar 31, 2017 12:31 pm

At Iraq camp, UN chief urges more aid for people of Mosul

Iraqis flee on foot carrying their belongings to escape the fighting for Mosul's Old City with the Islamic State group on March 30, 2017

UN chief Antonio Guterres appealed on Friday for more aid for the people of Mosul, as he visited a camp for Iraqis displaced by the battle to retake the second city from jihadists.

Iraq is nearly six months into the operation to oust the Islamic State group from its most populous bastion -- a battle that has sparked major humanitarian concerns.

More than 200,000 civilians have fled IS-held west Mosul since last month, while the fighting has taken a devastating toll among the hundreds of thousands more still trapped in the battleground.

"We don't have the resources that are necessary to support these people and we don't have the international solidarity that is needed," Guterres told journalists during a visit to the Hasan Sham Camp.

"Unfortunately, our programme here is only funded at eight percent. That shows how limited our resources are," he said.

"These people have suffered enormously, and they go on suffering. We need more solidarity from the international community."

Guterres said there were not enough resources available to provide acceptable living conditions for the people of Mosul or for the reconciliation efforts that will need to follow when the city has been fully recaptured.

Whether or not real reconciliation occurs in Mosul and elsewhere will play a major role in determining whether Iraq moves towards stability or further violence.

Guterres is on the second day of a visit to Iraq, after meeting top officials, including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, on Thursday.

As he began his visit in Baghdad, Guterres called for the protection of civilians to be the "absolute priority," after the battle for Mosul resulted in numerous civilian deaths and widespread privation.

- Deadly toll on civilians -

The UN said earlier this month that some 600,000 civilians were still in west Mosul, 400,000 of them trapped in siege-like conditions in the Old City.

Remaining in the city has posed deadly danger to residents, with the UN human rights office saying more than 300 civilians were killed in west Mosul in little over a month.

Gunfire, shelling, bombs and air strikes have all taken their toll.

The Iraqi government has sought to blame the jihadists for the deaths.

Spokesman Colonel Joe Scrocca too accused IS of attempting to bait the US-led coalition supporting the operation into carrying out strikes that would kill civilians in order "to take advantage of the public outcry and the terror."

Scrocca said the number of jihadists remaining in Mosul had fallen significantly since Iraqi forces launched the operation to retake the west of the city last month, down from an estimated 2,000 to less than half that now.

Iraqi authorities say more than 200,000 civilians have fled the fighting since mid-February.

UN chief Antonio Guterres calls for more aid for the people of Mosul in a speech on March 31, 2017 at the Hasan Sham Camp for Iraqis displaced by the battle for the second city

Camps have been set up around the city to provide shelter for the displaced, while others are staying with relatives, renting accommodation or residing in makeshift shelters or unfinished buildings.

IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes have since regained much of the territory they lost.

Iraqi forces launched the operation to retake Mosul in October, retaking its east side in January before setting their sites on the smaller but more densely populated west.

The fighting has inflicted heavy casualties on the Iraqi security forces, according to the head of US Central Command, General Joseph Votel.

Votel told a congressional committee that 490 Iraqi security personnel were killed and more than 3,000 wounded in the battle for east Mosul, while 284 have been killed and more than 1,600 wounded in fighting for the west.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/ar ... Mosul.html
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:40 pm

Belgium probes Mosul air strikes that killed civilians

Belgium has opened an investigation into the suspected involvement of Belgian fighter jets in air strikes in west Mosul that killed dozens of civilians, prosecutors said on Friday.

Iraqi authorities believe more than 130 civilians were killed in strikes over several days in Mosul's al-Jadida area, and attention has focused on one particularly deadly attack on March 17. Other estimates say as many as 400 people may have died.

"We have opened a preliminary investigation to establish ... whether all procedures were observed during two incidents," prosecutors' spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt told AFP news agency.

"If rules of engagement were properly observed ... it is possible that no crime was committed," Van Der Sypt said.

Belgian MP Wouter De Vriendt told Flemish broadcaster VRT the case involved strikes carried out by Belgian F16 fighter jets on March 17.

The US-led coalition had previously said it carried out a strike on March 17 in an area of west Mosul in which civilian casualties were reported, and it had opened an investigation.

Iraq says 200 bodies pulled from rubble in Mosul

Belgium takes part in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, which has conducted tens of thousands of air strikes against the fighters in Iraq and Syria.

The coalition insists ISIL has targeted civilians and used them as human shields, while acknowledging air strikes by anti-ISIL forces have also left civilians dead.

The United States carries out most Iraq air operations, but Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands, and Britain also carry out missions.

General Stephen Townsend, the senior US commander in Iraq, said this week a coalition strike in the northern city earlier this month "probably" killed dozens of civilians.

US investigators are also looking at the apparent bombing of a school in Mansura near Raqqa, Syria on March 21, and a building next to a mosque on March 16 in al-Jineh, in Aleppo province.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/b ... 45418.html
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:39 pm

Resentment festers in Mosul: just ask Saddam Hussein

If you want to hear the resentment people of Mosul feel now that Iraqi forces have driven Islamic State out of most of the city, you should talk to Saddam Hussein.

Not the dictator, but the Mosul schoolteacher, who proudly shows off an identity card bearing the name which his parents gave him in the ruler's honour 45 years ago, and which he passed on to his sons.

The original Saddam, a Sunni Muslim who was toppled in a U.S.-led invasion in 2003 and hanged three years later on an Iraqi army base for crimes against humanity, is a hate figure to the Shi'ites who make up the majority of Iraqis, violently repressed under his rule.

But here in Mosul, where most people are Sunnis who feel disrespected by the authorities in Baghdad, he is still beloved, just one example of the many ways in which the local narrative veers sharply from that of most of the rest of the country.

"My name is Saddam and all three of my sons are called Saddam, because I love him," said the teacher. "Saddam was the best leader Iraq has ever had."

When Islamic State fighters swept into Mosul in 2014, supporters of the ousted leader were among those who welcomed the Sunni militants as protectors against the Shi'ite authorities. A group of ex-Saddam era military officers pledged support for the Islamic State caliphate.

Most residents of Mosul turned against the militants during their two years of harsh rule, and the teacher said he never supported them. But few here trust the central authorities that have now returned.

The teacher lost his salary under Islamic State when Baghdad stopped sending money to pay wages of government workers in territory held by the militants. Like many in Mosul, he is now embroiled in a long vetting process to get back on the payroll, which he considers discriminatory and unfair.

When fighting reached his district, he fled with his family to a U.N. camp. He has now come back to his old home, but the landlord is evicting him. With no salary, he has no way to pay rent. The family will soon be homeless, with nowhere to go but back to the camp.

"I have lost everything. I can't feed my family anymore," he said. "I can't pay my rent anymore but I don't want to move with my family to a camp again. I'm really tired of this life."

SLOGANS

The biggest land battle in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, the battle to free Mosul of Islamic State is now in its seventh month. Much of the city has been fully under government control since late last year, yet there is no water and no electricity.

The authorities have put up new billboards with pictures of the city's landmarks or the Tigris river, and messages such as: "Dear citizens, we urge you to get back to your daily life."

But beneath them, the walls bear Shi'ite religious slogans spray painted by government troops, which Sunni residents say makes them feel like they are living under occupation.

"Politics are dominated by sectarian and political groups," said Wael Faisal, an electronics seller, referring to the graffiti. "We haven't any development projects from Baghdad in Mosul since 2003."

With salaries still going unpaid, families are forced to beg for food at mosques. More than 100 former state prison workers gathered in eastern Mosul on Wednesday complaining they had not been paid for up to six months.

"We have no water and power. This is the political corruption we have been suffering from," said Faisal.

Many now say that the conditions will create the breeding ground for yet another radical group in Mosul, which became a centre for the Sunni insurgency after the U.S.-led invasion.

"I think the future will be worse because the central government will again not care about Mosul," said Farnas Talib, a light bulb shop owner in eastern Mosul, which was declared "fully liberated" in January.

"What is Daesh?" he said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. "Daesh came because of a lack of interest from Baghdad in Mosul. Unless this changes there will be another group, with a different name, different people, maybe no beards."

An aide to the governor of the Nineveh province of which Mosul is the capital said authorities were working non-stop.

"We have restarted power in some areas for some hours and it will gradually improve further," he said. "We are also restoring water, but some parts of the system got damaged."

"We are working day and night to serve citizens but our possibilities are limited because support from Baghdad is very limited. We need more support," he said.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuter ... ssein.html
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:19 pm

The Pentagon said on Sunday investigations conducted during the month of March revealed coalition air strikes killed 45 civilians, mostly in and around Mosul.

In a statement, the Pentagon called the deaths "unintentional".

At least 362 civilians have been killed by coalition raids in Iraq and Syria since the start of the air campaign in 2014, according to the US defence department.

However, activists and monitor groups put the number much higher, saying coalition air strikes have killed more than 3,000 civilians in Iraq and Syria since then
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Apr 30, 2017 11:49 pm

Mosul battle 'over in three weeks', top commander predicts

An Iraqi commander says he expects to dislodge Islamic State (IS) from Mosul in May despite resistance from militants in the densely populated Old City district.

The battle should be completed "in a maximum of three weeks", the Iraqi army's chief of staff, Lieutenant General Othman al-Ghanmi, was quoted as saying by state-run newspaper al-Sabah on Sunday.

A US-led international coalition is providing air and ground support for the offensive in Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, which fell to hardline Sunni Muslim fighters in June 2014.

Islamic State has lost most of the city's districts since the offensive began in October and is surrounded in the north-western districts, including the historic Old City centre.

The United Nations believes up to half a million people remain in the area controlled by the militants, 400,000 of whom are in the Old City with little food and water and no access to hospitals.

The militants have dug in alongside the civilians, often launching deadly counter-attacks to repel forces closing in on the Old City's Grand al-Nuri Mosque, from where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate over parts of Iraq and Syria.

The hardline group persecuted non-Sunni Muslim communities and inflicted harsh punishments on Sunnis who do not abide by its extreme interpretation of Islam.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-01/y ... ay/8484510
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed May 03, 2017 10:53 pm

Do NOT be fooled - ISIS will be around for many years yet
By Patrick Cockburn

When Lionel Messi scored a last minute winning goal for Barcelona against Real Madrid on 23 April, football fans in the Syrian coastal city of Tartous who had been watching the game on television rushed into the street to celebrate.

This turned out to be a mistake from their point of view because many of the jubilant fans were men of military age, whom the Syrian security forces promptly detained in order to find out if they were liable for military service. It is unknown how many were conscripted but, once in the army, they will have difficulty getting out and there is a high chance they will be killed or injured.

Military service and ways of avoiding it are staples of conversation in Syria where government, Kurds and insurgents are all looking for soldiers after six years of relentless war. Casualties have been heavy with pro-government forces alone losing an estimated 112,000 dead since 2011 according to the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. In theory, men can escape conscription if they are the only son of a family or are studying at university, but even then they are not entirely safe from being arbitrarily drafted.

The conscripts eat bad food and are poorly paid, earning around $50 a month,which gives them little option but to live off bribes mostly earned by letting people pass through their checkpoints. Iraqi and Syrian security officials say this is one reason why Isis and al-Qaeda suicide bombers driving vehicles full of explosives are able to blow themselves up and cause horrific loss of life in the heart of supposedly well-protected cities.

“Women and children are vulnerable in this war but I feel more sorry for the young men who are in much greater danger,” said a UN aid worker, who did not want her name published, working at the sprawling Hammam al-Alil camp for displaced persons south of Mosul. She said that, whether or not they had ever belonged to an armed group, the young men were always suspected of it. She had just seen a dozen of them who had fled from Mosul being taken off for interrogation and vetting “and I have never seen more terrified people in my life”. She added that they had every reason to be frightened because a few days previously she had seen two men from Mosul, unconscious and covered in blood, being taken to hospital on stretchers after a couple of hours’ interrogation.

Paranoia runs deep in Syria and Iraq and people speak continually of “sleeper cells” established by ISIS that are waiting to emerge suddenly and slaughter their enemies. Despite these fears, security is generally very poor because of the saturation levels of corruption. Checkpoints act as internal customs posts: the smaller ones mulct drivers of a packet of cigarettes or their small change, but the larger checkpoints are big business with a turnover of the equivalent of millions of pounds and dollars. Huge profits are kicked back to senior officers, politicians and parties who preside over the networks of rackets that strangle the Iraqi and Syrian economies.

Lorry drivers on the 165-mile route between Kirkuk and Baghdad were on strike in March, complaining that the main checkpoint outside Baghdad had raised its illegal fees to $1,500 per truck which was three times the previous level. “This money does not come from individual drivers, but from the owner of the goods he carries who passes on the extra cost to the consumer in Baghdad,” said a broker called Ahmed who works as a freelance freight forwarder. He explained that the drivers were on strike not because of the bribery, but because the increased delays at checkpoints that meant the Kirkuk-Baghdad round-trip, which used to take three days, was now taking fifteen.

The criminalisation of society in Iraq and Syria during the long years of war is one reason why normal life does not return even when there is no fighting. On top of the corruption by local warlords and political bosses, the number of reliable combat soldiers on all sides is limited so military successes are never as decisive as claimed. The Syrian army can only stage one offensive at a time and this makes it vulnerable on other fronts. Just as it was capturing East Aleppo in December 2016 after a long siege, it lost Palmyra to Isis for a second time and has had to fight off an Isis attack on Deir Ezzor, the largest city in eastern Syria. In Damascus, a surprise insurgent assault, using tunnels from their stronghold in Eastern Ghouta, came close to storming the centre of the capital.

The capture of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria is often presented as the death knell for Isis, but its demise is by no means so certain. The loss of the two cities means that the self-declared Caliphate will be shrunken and lose much of its population. But prior to its explosive advances in 2014, when it captured much of western Iraq and eastern Syria, it was a skilled and experienced guerrilla movement. Unable to stand against the firepower of an enemy in total control of the air, there are signs that it is moving many of its fighters and officials out of Mosul and Raqqa to rural areas where they can hide more easily.

The round-up of football fans in Tartous underlines the shortage of soldiers facing the Syrian government. It has too few troops to occupy and hold territory seized from Isis and al-Qaeda. Iraq has a similar problem because, although many men theoretically belong to its security forces, the real number of combat troops is much smaller. Most of the soldiers one sees beside the road in Iraq and Syria belong to “checkpoint armies” who exploit the civilian population but are not planning to fight anybody.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 16111.html
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed May 03, 2017 11:07 pm

Does anyone seriously think that by attacking and destroying much of Mosul, the Sunni inhabitants who occupied the city - and Sunnis elsewhere in Syria and Iraq - will feel more friendly towards the Shia =))

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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu May 04, 2017 10:25 am

Iraqis open up new front to retake city from ISIS

Iraqi security forces say they have opened a new front in the operation against so-called Islamic State (ISIS) militants in north-western Mosul.

Troops from the army's 9th Division and the police's Rapid Response Force are now advancing on the Musharifa, Kanisa and Haramat districts from the north.

They will join troops who are pushing into the Old City from the south.

The troops launched a major offensive to recapture Mosul - the last major ISIS urban stronghold in Iraq - in October.

Supported by US-led coalition air strikes and military advisers, they managed to take full control of the eastern half of Mosul in January and started an assault on the west in February.

On Sunday, Army Chief of Staff Lt Gen Othman al-Ghanmi told a state-run newspaper that he expected the battle in the west to be completed "in a maximum of three weeks" despite fierce resistance from militants in the Old City.

The densely-populated area includes the symbolically important Great Mosque of al-Nuri, where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the establishment of a "caliphate" after Mosul and much of northern Iraq fell to the jihadist group in 2014.

Iraqi officers estimate that the number of militants still inside Mosul at 200 to 300, most of them foreigners. There were believed to have been between 3,000 and 5,000 before the operation started.

Several thousand civilians and military personnel have also been killed, according to international aid organisations.

More than 580,000 civilians have been displaced since the operation to recapture it began, among them 419,000 from western Mosul, the Iraqi authorities say.

Most have taken refuge in nearby camps and reception centres. Others have gone to stay with relatives and friends.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-39802622
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri May 05, 2017 9:20 pm

Iraqi army denies air raid targeted civilians

Iraqi army says it hit an ISIL bomb factory in w. Mosul, but ISIL says raid killed 68 people, mostly women and children :-?

The Iraqi military has admitted bombing a disused school in western Mosul, but denied targeting civilians - saying the building was being used by ISIL as a bomb factory.

The army's statement on Friday came a day after ISIL said that an air raid late on Thursday had killed 68 people who were sheltering in the building, including 47 children and women, and wounded 86 others.

ISIL, which stands for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and is also known as ISIS, blamed US-led coalition forces for the air raid, according to a statement carried on its Amaq website.

The Iraqi army did not confirm the number of casualties in Thursday's air raid, but said that ISIL has used civilians as human shields in the past.

Earlier, a source in the Iraqi federal police had told Al Jazeera that at least 80 people, including women and children, were killed on Thursday in an air raid in western Mosul's "July 17" neighbourhood - the same area where ISIL said the air raid had taken place.

"[The source said] that these were people that were fleeing the clashes, the fighting [that is] going on between Iraqi security forces and ISIL in that neighbourhood of western Mosul, and that they had taken refuge in a 'school house' in that area," Al Jazeera's Mohammed Jamjoon, reporting from Erbil in northern Iraq, said.

He added that the source could not confirm whether the Iraqi air force or the US-led coaltion was responsible for the raid.

The US-led coalition has been backing Iraq's forces during an eight-month offensive to recapture Mosul,Iraq's second city, from ISIL, which seized in 2014.

Al Jazeera also tried to get confirmation on the air raid from the US department of defence, but they have not yet commented on the incident.

As hundreds of thousands of civilians are still in Mosul, anti-ISIL forces have had to limit their use of aerial attacks and artillery in the city. Nevertheless, hundreds of civilians have been killed by coalition air raids and shelling, as well as in the counter-attacks launched by ISIL.

The US-led coalition bombing ISIL positions in Iraq admitted that it carried out air raids in March at a location in west Mosul where officials and residents say scores of civilians were killed.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been forced to flee their homes in Mosul as the military offensive to re-take the city rages on.

Since the push to regain control of the western half of Mosul began on February 19, the Iraqi government estimates that more than 220,000 people have been displaced.

On Thursday, an Iraqi armoured division began trying to advance into the city from the northern side.

ISIL is now besieged in the northwestern corner of Mosul, which includes the historic Old City centre and the medieval Grand al-Nuri Mosque and its landmark leaning minaret/

The mosque is a hugely symbolic prize as it is where ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a rare public appearance in July 2014 and declared the group's self-styled caliphate, after the armed group seized almost one-third of Iraq.

According to Iraq's authorities, ISIL now controls less than seven percent of Iraq.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/05/m ... 04424.html
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu May 11, 2017 6:11 pm

Mosul battle will be finished within days - Iraqi army chief

Iraqi security forces are only days away from completing the operation to recapture Mosul from so-called Islamic State, the army's chief of staff says.

Lt Gen Othman al-Ghanimi told the BBC he hoped the jihadist group would be defeated in the city before the Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins on 26 May.

Recent gains in the north meant the remaining militants were being squeezed into an ever smaller area, he added.

Mosul fell to ISIS in 2014 and is its last major urban stronghold in Iraq.

Pro-government forces launched a major offensive to retake the city in October with the support of US-led coalition air strikes.

They managed to take full control of the eastern half of Mosul in January and started an assault on the west the following month.

Fewer than 1,000 militants are now besieged in several north-western districts, including the Old City, along with as many as 450,000 civilians. :shock:

"The security forces are carrying out a big and effective effort. I say that Daesh (ISIS) will be finished in days, God willing," Gen Ghanimi told BBC Arabic's Feras Kilani.

(There is NO God in this awful slaughter)

"I say that the rest of Mosul will be liberated before the holy month of Ramadan."

A week ago, units from the army's 9th Armoured Division and the interior ministry's Rapid Response Force opened a new front in the north after the advance into the densely-populated Old City from the south and west stalled.

Progress in the north was initially limited by fierce resistance from militants using suicide car bombs and snipers, but Gen Ghanimi said gains were now being made.

On Wednesday, police commander Lt Gen Raed Jawdat said the Rapid Response Force had stormed the entrances to the Iqtisadiyeen district, south-east of Mushairfa, and killed dozens of militants in heavy clashes.

The United Nations has said the battle has left more than 8,000 civilians dead or wounded, but that figure only includes people transferred to medical facilities.

Iraq's military does not release casualty figures, but a US general said at the end of March that 774 Iraqi security personnel had been killed and 4,600 wounded.

More than 620,000 civilians have also been displaced by the fighting, among them 414,000 from western Mosul, the Iraqi authorities say.

Most have taken refuge in nearby camps and reception centres. Others are staying with relatives and friends.

The UN says another 100,000 to 200,000 could flee the final battle for the Old City.

On Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross expressed concern for civilians inside ISIS-led districts, saying they were facing "very stark choices" as supplies of food and water ran out.

"This population is not only exposed to the immediate dangers of the conflict itself and being either targeted or hit as collateral damage, but is also facing the effects of just no longer really having much access to the basic essentials that they need to live," deputy Middle East director Patrick Hamilton told Reuters news agency.

"People don't have enough to eat, don't have water," he added. "Babies, elderly and so on of course they are very vulnerable and may already be dying."

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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue May 16, 2017 6:28 pm

War in Mosul nearing its end, Raqqa is the focus

The war against ISIS in Mosul to retake the city from the radical group is nearing an end, says the US presidential envoy to the global coalition Brett McGurk, and that the militants will have to surrender or die.

“I'm not going to put timelines on it, this has been a long and very difficult campaign but ISIS (the Islamic State group) is down to its last stronghold in the western part of the city and it's really just a matter of time.” McGurk told Associated Press, speaking at a water treatment plant south of Mosul. “Anyone left in there, they either have to surrender or they're going to die.”

He said that the priority was now driving ISIS out of its capital city of Raqqa in Syria.

For the planned operation against Raqqa the US recently decided to arm the Kurds in Syria, and for that, said McGurk, Washington is in discussions with Turkey that opposes the deal.

He said: “We're in constant discussions with Turkey, in fact just a few days ago I was at Brussels to brief NATO and our Turkish allies were there,”

“We've got (Turkish) President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan in Washington this coming week. So we're in constant discussion with Turkey but first and foremost we have to get ISIS out of Raqqa.”

McGurk said that Raqqa was a place that still posed a threat and lessons had been learned in Iraq for the upcoming operations in Syria.

“Raqqa is where they're planning and plotting attacks against us, and the lessons we've learnt here in Iraq are making sure that we return people to their homes and that local areas are returned to the local people who live there. That includes the Arabs of Raqqa, that is the plan.” he explained.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/16052017
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun May 21, 2017 12:07 pm

200,000 more people could flee Mosul as fighting intensifies

The United Nations said up to 200,000 more people might flee Mosul as Iraqi forces push into the last districts held by Islamic State militants.

Iraqi authorities and aid agencies are already struggling to cope with a surge in displacement since security forces opened a new front against the militants in Mosul earlier this month.

Backed by a U.S.-led coalition, Iraqi forces have dislodged Islamic State from all but about 12 square km (five square miles) of the city and are seeking to claim victory before the holy month of Ramadan in less than two weeks.

The militants, however, still control the Old City, where they are expected to make their last stand in the densely populated, narrow streets that are impassible for armored vehicles.

Military commanders say the aim is to raise the Iraqi flag over the Old City's Nuri mosque, from which Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a caliphate, so the battle can be declared won even if pockets of resistance remain.

"As military operations intensify and move closer to Mosul’s Old City area, we expect that up to 200,000 more people will flee," Lise Grande, the UN's Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said in a statement, describing the figures as "alarming".

"The numbers of people who are moving are now so large, it’s becoming more and more difficult to ensure civilians receive the assistance and protection they need."

The displacement is also complicating the advance of Iraqi forces, according to Brigadier General Ali al-Sharifi of the Federal Police forces, which are fighting in the 17 Tammouz district.

"We didn't expect such a flux of thousands of families fleeing toward our forces. We slowed clashes to give them safe routes and we had to prepare hundreds of trucks to evacuate them. It's not an easy situation".

Among those freed from Islamic State on Thursday were two girls from the Yazidi minority who had been held captive since the militants overran their villages nearly three years ago, federal police chief Lieutenant General Raed Shaker Jawdat said in a statement.

Seven months since the start of the Mosul campaign, nearly 700,000 people have fled Mosul, seeking refuge either with friends and relatives or in camps.

Human Rights Watch said on Thursday the Iraqi army and other local security forces had forced over 300 displaced families to return to western districts of Mosul that are still at risk of attack by Islamic State.

"These families should not be forcibly returned to unsafe areas and areas that lack adequate water, food, electricity, or health facilities," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-midea ... SKCN18E0UI
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon May 22, 2017 8:41 pm

Final stages of Mosul battle will be ‘extremely violent,’ U.S. commander says

The last handful of neighborhoods held by the Islamic State in Mosul will likely be the most difficult to retake despite nearly eight months of street-by-street fighting, the U.S. officer in charge of advising Iraqi forces in the area predicted.

It’s going to be “extremely violent,” Col. Patrick Work, commanding officer of the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, said during a phone interview Saturday. Work is in charge of about 1,800 soldiers who are helping “advise and assist” the Iraqi forces around Mosul.

“The hardest days are still in front of them,” he said.

Mosul is a critical prize in the fight against the Islamic State. It was once the main urban stronghold for the militants in Iraq and the logistics base for atrocities across northern Iraq, including purges against the Yazidi minority and the destruction of renowned pre-Islamic antiquities.

Work declined to give a timeline for the remainder of the operation in the western part of the city, but some Iraqi officers have said the battle could be over by the end of the week in conjunction with the start of Ramadan, a holy month of fasting, introspection and prayer.

Yet with some of the most difficult areas of the city still held by militants — and tens of thousands of civilians still trapped in their homes — the fighting could last well into the weeks ahead.

“It all depends on the circumstances of the battle. Now they are entirely besieged, and there is no way out. It’s going to be either fighting or giving up and trying to infiltrate with the civilians,” said Lt. Gen. Sami al-Aridhi, commander of two of the U.S.-trained Counter Terrorism Service task forces. “I can’t give timelines, but I don’t expect it’s going to be long.”

Iraqi forces are now wrapping up the final stages of an operation, launched earlier this month, in which they retook nearly all of the northwestern part of Mosul. An earlier offensive that started in February stalled after coming up against heavy resistance in the southern part of the city.

The Iraqi military is usually mum about its casualty numbers, but Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday that the Iraqis had suffered heavy losses during the Mosul operation, with about 980 killed and more than 6,000 wounded.

The Islamic State holds only about five square miles of Mosul, including the Zanjili neighborhood and the Old City. The Old City is the site of the Great Mosque, where the Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a “caliphate” in 2014 across parts of Iraq and Syria.

Both Zanjili and the Old City are far more cramped that the rest of Mosul, with narrow side streets and alleys that will restrict Iraqi vehicle movement and give Islamic State fighters a clear advantage when it comes to launching their signature bomb-laden suicide vehicles.

The close quarters will probably force Iraqi troops to rely more heavily on their own resources rather than U.S.-led airstrikes and artillery. Aside from airstrikes, U.S. and other coalition forces are providing a range of other assistance to Iraqi forces, including flying small hand-launched drones to help spot targets for advancing forces, as well as providing counterartillery radar and drone-jamming equipment to stop the Islamic State’s own unmanned aircraft.

It is unclear how many fighters are left in the city or what type of resources they still have at their disposal. Work declined to give an estimate, while Iraqi Counter Terrorism officers have said they believe about 350 fighters remain in the Old City and its surrounding neighborhoods.

“Measuring exact numbers of ISIS fighters left in Mosul is difficult, and it may not really matter,” Work said, adding that Iraqi gains in the city are more important to the coalition than tracking militant numbers.

Despite being on the defensive for more than half a year and losing hundreds of fighters, the Islamic State has still managed to launch small-scale offensives in parts of the city.

On Friday, dozens of Islamic State fighters attacked Iraqi Counter Terrorism troops during a sandstorm, pushing the Iraqis back about a block before retreating as the weather changed. On Sunday, Iraqi Counter Terrorism forces continued to face staunch resistance in the Najjar neighborhood despite having declared their part of the Mosul operation over the day before. While it has not been officially announced what Iraqi units will clear the remaining parts of Mosul, Iraqi Counter Terrorism officers said they would clear the Old City. It is likely, however, that the Iraqi army, Federal Police and the Ministry of Interior’s Emergency Response Division will all be involved in the final operations.

With an estimated 200,00 civilians still in the Islamic State-held portions of the city, the wave of new fighting could touch off a humanitarian crisis.

Work said the U.S.-led coalition is cautious when calling in air and artillery strikes, but he noted that it is ready to look at additional ways to mitigate civilian deaths during the final stages of the battle. In March, the United States admitted bombing a building in the Jadida neighborhood of Mosul. More than 100 people were killed in the blast, and the U.S.-led coalition is still investigating the incident. Iraqi Counter Terrorism forces said they had called in the strike.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/che ... 3a03955522
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat May 27, 2017 11:39 pm

Iraq forces launch broad attack on ISIS holdouts in Mosul

Iraqi forces have launched a broad assault on parts of battleground second city Mosul still held by the Islamic State group, the military announced on Saturday.

The offensive is the latest push in the more than seven-month battle to retake Mosul, a linchpin in ISIS's now crumbling attempt to establish a cross-border jihadist "state".

Multiple security forces units are attacking "what remains of the unliberated areas" on the west bank of the River Tigris, the Joint Operations Command said in a statement.

"Army forces attacked Al-Shifaa neighbourhood and the Republican Hospital, federal police forces Al-Zinjili neighbourhood, and Counter-Terrorism forces attacked Al-Saha raqi forces have launched a broad assault on parts of battleground second city Mosul still held by the Islamic State group, the military announced on Saturday.

The offensive is the latest push in the more than seven-month battle to retake Mosul, a linchpin in ISIS's now crumbling attempt to establish a cross-border jihadist "state".

Multiple security forces units are attacking "what remains of the unliberated areas" on the west bank of the River Tigris, the Joint Operations Command said in a statement.

"Army forces attacked Al-Shifaa neighbourhood and the Republican Hospital, federal police forces Al-Zinjili neighbourhood, and Counter-Terrorism forces attacked Al-Saha al-Oula neighbourhood," it said.

All three neighbourhoods are located north of the Old City, a warren of closely spaced buildings and narrow streets that has posed significant challenges to Iraqi forces seeking to oust ISIS.

The Joint Operations Command said later on Saturday that two colonels from the Iraqi army's 16th Division were killed in the Mosul area, but did not provide details about when or how they died.

On Friday, the federal police said they had bombarded IS positions with Grad rockets and field artillery in "preparation for attacking the Old City in the coming hours".

But the Joint Operations Command did not mention any attack on ISIS-held areas of the Old City on Saturday.al-Oula neighbourhood," it said.

All three neighbourhoods are located north of the Old City, a warren of closely spaced buildings and narrow streets that has posed significant challenges to Iraqi forces seeking to oust ISIS.

The Joint Operations Command said later on Saturday that two colonels from the Iraqi army's 16th Division were killed in the Mosul area, but did not provide details about when or how they died.

On Friday, the federal police said they had bombarded IS positions with Grad rockets and field artillery in "preparation for attacking the Old City in the coming hours".

But the Joint Operations Command did not mention any attack on ISIS-held areas of the Old City on Saturday.

Earlier this week, the military said it had dropped "hundreds of thousands of leaflets" on ISIS-held areas of Mosul, urging "citizens to exit via safe corridors towards security forces".

- Dangers to civilians -

International aid group Save the Children expressed concern that the call for civilians to leave could expose them to additional danger.

"The Iraqi government must ensure all exit corridors are genuinely safe for people to flee," it said.

"The call for civilians to leave their homes is a U-turn on former directives that compelled civilians to stay and wait for the battle to pass" -- instructions that also raised concerns about the risks.

ISIS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes have since regained much of the territory they lost to the jihadists.

Iraqi forces launched a major operation to retake Mosul in October last year, fighting their way to the city and retaking its eastern side before setting their sights on its smaller but more densely populated west.

The battle has taken a heavy toll on civilians, pushing hundreds of thousands to flee, while hundreds more have been killed or wounded.

On Thursday, the United States announced the results of an investigation into a deadly coalition air strike earlier this year.

The probe found that at least 105 civilians had been killed and 36 remained unaccounted for, but said most had been killed by the secondary explosion of ISIS munitions stored in a nearby house.

Image

There have also been reports that members of an Iraqi interior ministry special forces unit tortured and killed detainees during the Mosul operation. X(

Iraqi photographer Ali Arkady recounted witnessing the abuse, which he also filmed, in an article for German magazine Der Spiegel. US network ABC News also reported on Arkady's footage.

The interior ministry has launched an investigation into the allegations.

Abuses such as those described in the reports could sow the seeds of future conflict even as security forces near the end of the battle for Mosul, ISIS's most emblematic stronghold.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/ar ... Mosul.html

Does anybody know exactly how many corpses have been liberated so far?
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Re: Updates on Ongoing Mosul Massacre

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun May 28, 2017 7:59 pm

Iraq Mosul offensive: Civilians 'in grave danger' - UN

Civilians are being hit hardest as Iraq's military assault on Mosul enters its final phase, the country's UN humanitarian relief co-ordinator says.

Lise Grande told the BBC residents were in grave danger as so-called Islamic State (ISIS) was directly targeting families.

Many people in the city are already facing severe shortages of water and electricity.

Iraqi forces say they have recaptured several villages from ISIS militants.

Troops have been trying to drive ISIS fighters out of the last remaining strongholds they control in Mosul's Old City.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled the northern city since the offensive to reclaim it was launched in October last year.

Federal Police snipers covered us as we moved forward, heading to the frontline. Gunfire echoed around the streets. Every few minutes, a mortar exploded nearby.

Soon the streets were too dangerous, so we moved from house to house through holes in the walls.

Major Ali of the sniper brigade told the BBC real time intelligence was crucial.

"There are still many civilians there, most of them hiding in their basements and running out of food."

From our position we could see the iconic Al-Nouri mosque - where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had addressed crowds after announcing the caliphate.

"They won't give up on this mosque," Major Ali said.

"They will fight till they die and will use civilians in every way they can to slow us down."

Ms Grande said that the next part of the assault was going to be the hardest.

"Civilians are going to be at the most extreme risk they have been during the entire campaign," she said.

"We know that ISIL [ISIS] is directly targeting families as they try to escape, we know that there are very limited stocks of food and medicines, we know that there are severe shortages of water and electricity.

"All of the evidence points to the fact that the civilians who are trapped in these neighbourhoods and districts are in grave danger."

One recently rescued civilian, Homira, told the BBC's Nafiseh Kohnavard she had "almost died of hunger."

"We felt like we were in a prison. We had to stay for days in our basement. When we saw the Iraqi forces it was the happiest moment of our lives."

The government announced the recapture of eastern Mosul in January but the fight for complete control of the western half continues.

Thousands of Iraqi security forces, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen, assisted by US-led coalition warplanes and military advisers, are involved in the offensive.

Earlier this month, coalition officials estimated the number of militants in Mosul to be fewer than 1,000 - compared with 3,500 to 6,000 militants in and around the city before the offensive began last October.

The UN has said the battle has left more than 8,000 civilians dead or wounded, but that figure only comprises people transferred to medical facilities.

Iraq's military does not release casualty figures, but US Gen Joseph Votel told a Congressional hearing at the end of March that at least 774 Iraqi security personnel had been killed and 4,600 wounded.

More than 580,000 civilians have also been displaced by the fighting, among them 419,000 from western Mosul, the Iraqi authorities say.

Link to Article - Video - Photos:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-40075901
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