Iraqi forces free two IS-held villages near Mosul

Around 350,000 children are trapped in western Mosul, Save the Children warned on Sunday as Iraqi forces launched a fresh offensive on jihadists defending the strategic city.

Evidence of Islamic State's brutality continued to show, as numerous villages on Mosul's southern front, where fighting took place on Monday, had been forcibly emptied by the extremists, as they drove residents into urban western Mosul to serve as human shields.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi F-16 jet fighters carried out six airstrikes on IS positions in and near the IS-held town, destroying four auto bomb-making sites and killing 20 militants at a safe house.

Right now, ISIS fighters in Mosul are using quad-copters that are no larger than a couple feet in diameter and can fly for about an hour, he said.

It was from the pulpit of the Mosul Grand Mosque that so-called Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a "caliphate" over parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014.

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Two days ago, the federal police forces and Counter-Terrorism Service freed the hill of Albu Saif, just south of Mosul airport, after clashes with the IS militants.

Meanwhile, Hashed forces pushed northwards on their desert front further west and reached the road linking Mosul to Tal Afar, a town to the west which is still under IS control.

Backed by USA -led airstrikes, US special operations forces on the ground and the thousands of American troops providing support, Iraqi police and army troops launched the offensive to recapture western Mosul, first targeting the Abu Saif village.

The battle for western Mosul promises to be even more daunting, as the half of the city west of the Tigris River has older, narrower streets and is still heavily populated.

The battle is expected to be tougher than the one in eastern Mosul, most of which was retaken from Daesh last month as a result of a major offensive launched in October to rid the entire city of the militant group.

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Commanders and experts expect that the fighting in west Mosul could be the bloodiest yet.

The IS militants, apparently, were trying to break the siege of Hashd Shaabi units in west of Mosul, which cut off the supply routes between Mosul and neighboring Syria, the statement said. The Iraqi army claim to have taken it back, and defeated the Islamist terrorists.

The United Nations estimates from 650,000 to 750,000 civilians are now in Mosul amid a humanitarian crisis in which shortages of food, water and fuel are widespread.

USA army officer Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of offensive operations across Iraq, said in an official statement that "Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world, and the Iraqi forces have risen to the challenge".

ICTS units carried out the overwhelming brunt of the fighting to liberate Mosul's east bank and are believed to have suffered significant casualties as a result.

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A USA serviceman died on Monday in a non-combat related incident outside the Iraqi city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, the US -led coalition said, giving no further details. "We are hearing reports of parents struggling to feed their children and to heat their homes", Grande said.


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