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IRAQ WARS
Iraq battles last few hundred jihadists in Old Mosul
By Emmanuel Duparcq
Mosul, Iraq (AFP) July 2, 2017


Suicide bomber kills 14 at camp for Iraq displaced
Baghdad (AFP) July 2, 2017 - A suicide bomber attacked a camp for displaced Iraqis in Anbar province on Sunday, killing 14 people, a police major and a doctor said.

The blast at the 60 Kilo camp west of Anbar capital Ramadi also wounded 13 people.

The doctor and the major both said that most of the victims were women and children, but the officer also told AFP that two security personnel including a captain were among the dead.

Adnan Fayhan, the head of the local council in the Al-Wafaa area, where the camp is located, said that the camp would be closed following the attack.

"All the displaced people in the camp will be brought to the 18 Kilo camp west of Ramadi," as it is "safer and receives more aid," Fayhan said.

"The 60 Kilo camp will be closed after all the displaced people have been brought to the 18 Kilo camp," he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic State jihadist group frequently carries out suicide bombings targeting civilians in Iraq.

Iraqi forces retook the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah from IS, but the jihadists still hold areas in western Anbar, and the province still faces major security challenges.

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

Iraqi forces are now in the final stages of the battle to retake Mosul from IS, but will have more fighting to do in Anbar and elsewhere after recapturing the country's second city.

Security in some parts of Iraq will likely worsen as IS loses more ground and increasingly returns to insurgent-style bombings and hit-and-run attacks.

Iraq forces retake hospital near Mosul's Old City
Mosul, Iraq (AFP) July 2, 2017 - Iraqi forces have recaptured a hospital and other medical facilities in west Mosul, further isolating Islamic State group holdouts in the Old City, officers said.

The country's security forces are in the final stages of the gruelling battle to retake second city Mosul, which they launched more than eight months ago.

Interior ministry forces recaptured the Ibn Sina Teaching Hospital along with other medical facilities including a blood bank and a clinic, Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir Yarallah said in a statement on Saturday.

Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat, the commander of the country's federal police, said the area where the hospital is located, Al-Shifaa, had been completely retaken, limiting IS's presence in Mosul to the Old City.

"Our forces are advancing from three sides and are pursuing the terrorist groups in the few remaining areas of the Old City," Jawdat said in a statement.

Iraqi forces have been fighting to retake the Old City for weeks, and launched a renewed assault on the area on June 18.

On Thursday, they recaptured the remains of the mosque where IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only known public appearance, a significant symbolic victory for security forces.

But IS made sure that the Nuri mosque was not captured intact, blowing it up along with its famed leaning minaret as Iraqi forces closed in.

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 were battling the last few hundred jihadists in Mosul's historic centre Sunday as they pressed the final stages of an assault to drive the Islamic State group from the city.

More than eight months since the country's forces launched a gruelling operation to retake Mosul, IS has gone from fully controlling the city to holding a few neighbourhoods on its western side.

"The number is... more or less 300 fighters, most of them of European nationalities, Arabs of other nationalities or of Asian origin," said Staff Brigadier General Nabil al-Fatlawi, a commander in the elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS).

"We are not able to specify when the battles will end because of the narrow type of streets in the Old City and also the presence of civilian detainees," Fatlawi said, referring to residents being used as human shields by IS.

"But I can say within days," he said.

Earlier in the day, Iraq's Joint Operations Command announced CTS forces had recaptured the Makawi area of the Old City, in a further blow at the heart of the jihadists' cross-border "caliphate".

Iraqi forces have been closing in on the Old City for months, but its narrow streets and closely spaced buildings combined with a large civilian population made for an extremely difficult fight.

Security forces recaptured a series of nearby districts, cornering the jihadists, and launched an assault inside the Old City on June 18.

They have since made significant progress.

On Saturday, officers announced the recapture of a hospital and its surroundings north of the Old City, removing a nearby but unconnected pocket of IS resistance.

Interior ministry forces recaptured the Ibn Sina hospital along with other medical facilities including a blood bank and a clinic, said Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir Yarallah.

IS has occupied several of Mosul's hospitals during the battle for the city.

Some security personnel have complained that restrictions on using heavy weapons against hospitals, intended to protect the facilities, have made operations riskier and more time-consuming.

- 'Advancing on three sides' -

Federal police chief Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat said the area around the hospital, Al-Shifaa, had been completely retaken, limiting IS's presence in Mosul to the Old City.

"Our forces are advancing from three sides and are pursuing the terrorist groups in the few remaining areas of the Old City," said Jawdat.

On Thursday, Iraqi forces retook the remains of the Grand Mosque of al-Nuri in their greatest symbolic victory since the battle began.

IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi gave a triumphal sermon at the mosque after the jihadists captured Mosul in 2014, calling on Muslims to obey him.

The mosque thus became a symbol of Baghdadi's rule and IS's "caliphate".

The jihadists made sure that the Nuri mosque was not captured intact, blowing it up as Iraqi forces closed in, along with its famed leaning minaret -- known affectionately as "Al-Hadba" (The Hunchback).

IS claimed on its Amaq propaganda agency that the site was hit in a US air strike, but the US-led coalition said it was the jihadists who had "destroyed one of Mosul and Iraq's great treasures".

Even though it lies in ruins, the mosque's recapture has provided a boost to Iraq's forces and its government. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the jihadists' "caliphate" was coming to an end.

The next day, a senior Iraqi commander said victory in Mosul would be declared within the "next few days".

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

The recapture of Mosul will not however mark the end of the war against IS.

The jihadist group still holds territories in both Iraq and neighbouring Syria, where it has been able to carry out attacks in government-held areas.

The jihadist group has also inspired "lone wolf" attacks overseas.

IRAQ WARS
Gunfire cuts short celebrations at recaptured Mosul mosque
Mosul, Iraq (AFP) June 30, 2017
Iraqi soldiers snap victorious "selfies" and pose with a captured Islamic State group flag at the Mosul mosque where jihadist chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi once spoke. "Where is Baghdadi?" they say, taunting the absent jihadist leader at the site of his triumphal 2014 appearance, the only time he is known to have appeared in public as the head of IS's now-crumbling cross-border "caliphate." ... read more

Related Links
Iraq: The first technology war of the 21st century


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