Thursday, 19 April, 2018

Mosul Celebrates First Eid Without IS In Three Years

Iraqi security forces inspect the scene of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad's al Wahda neighborhood Iraqi security forces inspect the scene of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad's al Wahda neighborhood
Sammy Stanley | 29 June, 2017, 09:18

The PM's announcement came as Iraqi forces backed by an global coalition pushed further into the IS group's last stronghold in western Mosul. The militants are now besieged in Mosul's Old City.

"The security forces blocked a violent attack carried out by [people wearing] explosive belts, in Hay al-Tanak", said a military statement, showing pictures of black smoke it said came from fires set to houses and cars by the militants.

Those residents who have escaped say numerous civilians trapped behind Islamic State lines - put at 50,000 by the Iraqi military - have little food, water or medicines.

It follows claims by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that the capture of the whole of Mosul should be achieved in just a "few days".

Federal forces backed a US-led coalition launched an offensive to retake the country's second city from IS more than eight months ago.

Their home collapsed in a bomb attack - leaving relatives buried under the rubble - as Iraqi forces and Daesh militants battle it out over control of the Old City.

The battle for the city is expected to end soon.

Eid al Fitr 2017 in Mosul will be remembered as a day of freedom for the tormented population, the first after three years of despotic rule by Isis (Islamic State).

"Only a small part (of the militants) remains in the city, specifically the Old City", Lt. Gen. Abdul Ghani Al-Assadi, commander of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) in Mosul, told Reuters.

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While the destruction of the mosque demonstrates how much the security forces have achieved, Martin said, "we don't want to lose sight of the fact that there is a lot more work to be done".

The battle headed toward the heart of Mosul City is still ongoing, with Iraqi government troops intending to open routes for escape for the many civilians who are still trapped in the area.

"There are martyrs who were killed by Daesh", the medic said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

But hundreds of other civilians have been killed in the past month as they tried to flee the Old City.

Last week, Isis blew up the city's 12th century Grand Mosque, from which leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the creation of the so-called caliphate after his troops swept across northern Iraq from Syria in the summer of 2014.

They are trying to slow the advance of Iraqi forces by laying booby traps and using suicide bombers and snipers.

The fall of Mosul would mark the end of the Iraqi half of the "caliphate". The mosque's grounds remain under the militants' control.

Maj Gen Rupert Jones, the British deputy commander of the worldwide coalition fighting against Isil, said those left would be "cleared" by local forces.

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