Iraq Launches Offensive to Re-Take Western Mosul From ISIS: Prime Minister

Iraq Launches Offensive to Re-Take Western Mosul From ISIS: Prime Minister

Iraq Launches Offensive to Re-Take Western Mosul From ISIS: Prime Minister

That fight went up a gear on Sunday with the start of a major operation by the Iraqi security forces to liberate the western side of Mosul, once Iraq's second-largest city.

Multiple news outlets reported that leaflets were dropped from planes overnight on the western districts, warning residents of the coming assault and appealing to militants to surrender.

We know that it has been hard for people to leave Mosul. "Stay at home, raising the white flags as the forces approach".

Announcing the start of the campaign at the weekend, Haider al-Abadi, the prime minister, asked Iraqi forces to "respect human rights" during the battle, after a series of videos emerged showing abuse by uniformed men.

Independent media have no access to western Mosul or other areas under Islamic State control in Iraq and Syria.

With those shortages growing ever worse, and the fighting cutting water and electricity, the United Nations is warning that the estimated 650,000 Mosul residents left are at "extreme risk", and casualties could quickly mount.

Police units quickly entered the village of Athba, about 3 miles southwest of Mosul's global airport, encountering only light resistance. Separately, the Iraqi Army's 9th Division moved into the village of Bakhira, also southwest of the city, the Ministry of Defense said.

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Eastern Mosul was retaken from IS by Iraqi forces last month after a 100-day battle, but the west of the city remains in the hands of IS.

Iraq forces recaptured the eastern side of the city last month.

And despite calls for the USA military to retreat after the so-called Battle of Mosul, Mattis indicated that USA involvement in Iraq will likely continue, telling reporters, "I imagine we'll be in this fight for a while and we'll stand by each other".

Islamic State has escalated its insurgency in retaliation for the military setbacks that have, over the past year, forced it out of most Iraqi cities it had captured in 2014 and 2015.

Federal police forces reached the Aqrab checkpoint on the highway from Baghdad, a spot that marks the southern entrance to Mosul and from which the city is clearly visible.

A top army commander announced that forces led by federal police units took villages south of Mosul, leaving them within striking distance of the airport.

To date coalition forces have conducted more than 10,000 air strikes - including attacks launched by RAF fighter jets - against ISIS targets in Iraq and trained and equipped more than 70,000 Iraqi forces. The U.S. -led coalition will continue to closely back Iraqi forces with both airstrikes and raids into IS-held territory aimed at taking out key leaders and sowing unease in IS-held neighborhoods. Because of the Islamic State's heavy use of snipers, securing high ground is crucial, and Iraqi forces were nearing the base of the hill by Sunday afternoon. The advancing forces also disabled a vehicle bomb - used by the militants to obstruct attacking forces.

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