Bombardment in Iraq's Mosul takes heavy toll on civilians

13 April, 2017, 02:18 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Iraqi Christian residents of Qaraqosh attend a Palm Sunday service at the Church of the Immaculate Conception

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Islamic State group has lost more than three-fourths of the territory it seized when it swept across Iraq in the summer of 2014, the Iraqi military said Tuesday.

Iraqi forces liberated the western cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in June and December respectively previous year and the central city of Tikrit in March 2015.

Months later, the Iraqi security forces backed by tens of thousands of Shiite and Sunni volunteers, known as Hashd Shaabi paramilitary units, and with the air support provided by worldwide coalition led by the United States, the troops managed to recapture most of Iraq's key cities, towns and villages from the IS group.

Gen. Yahya Rasool told a news conference.

He said the battles in Iraq's second largest city of Mosul brought the eastern side of Mosul, locally known as left bank of Tigris River, under the control of Iraqi forces in January.

While Mosul is the centre of operations for ISIS in Iraq, the group also controls Qaim, Tal Afar and Hawija.

Rasool says more than half of western Mosul has been retaken from the militants.

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"Our troops are very cautious in their advance", Rasool told reporters in Baghdad.

The coalition has come under criticism following an air strike in west Mosul last month that took a heavy toll on civilians, a strike it admitted may have been its own.

But even if ISIL members are targeted, the fact that they are operating in areas still home to large numbers of residents means that civilians can easily still end up the victims.

Iraqi soldiers look on as smoke rises from the Qayyarah area, some 60 kilometres (35 miles) south of Mosul, on October 19, 2016, as Iraqi forces take part in an operation against Islamic State (ISIS) group jihadists to retake the main hub city.

Meanwhile, Rasoul said that the military operations in west Mosul are going on according to the command's plan.

Islamic State has used hundreds of vehicle bombs along with drones rigged with explosives in Mosul.

"Though the fighting is going to be very hard. this enemy is completely surrounded".

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