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Old 10-16-2016, 09:04 PM   #1
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Default U.S. ready to support Iraq in 'difficult fight ahead' for Mosul

The United States and the rest of the U.S.-led international coalition stand ready to support Iraq "in the difficult fight ahead," U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Sunday as Baghdad announced its offensive to retake Mosul from Islamic State. "This is a decisive moment in the campaign to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat," Carter said in a statement, using an acronym for Islamic State.

U.S. ready to support Iraq in 'difficult fight ahead' for Mosul
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Old 10-16-2016, 11:36 PM   #2
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Push to re-capture Mosul begins...

War looms in Mosul, tens of thousands of leaflets dropped to warn residents
Monday 17th October, 2016 - Iraqi aircraft dropped "tens of thousands" of leaflets, some bearing safety instructions for Mosul residents, ahead of an operation to retake the city from jihadists, the military said.
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Iraq has dropped leaflets over Mosul before, and has also done so as part of operations to retake other cities seized by the Islamic State group in 2014 and 2015. Aircraft dropped "tens of thousands of newspapers and magazines on the centre of the city of Mosul carrying important news... to inform them of updates and facts and victories," said Iraq's Joint Operations Command, which distributed images of some of the leaflets.

One image showed a leaflet containing safety instructions for Mosul residents, urging them to tape over windows to prevent the glass from shattering, to avoid the sites of air strikes for at least an hour after a place is bombed, and saying they should not drive if possible. The launch of the operation is expected to be announced soon, but it will mark only the start of a battle that is likely to be the most difficult and complex yet in the war against ISIS.


A coalition of heterogenous and sometimes rival Iraqi forces will have to fight their way through ISIS defences to reach the city, in some cases over distances of dozens of kilometres. Then they will likely seek to surround the city before launching an assault, marking the start of deadly street fighting with die-hard jihadists in a city with a large civilian population.

The battle may spark a humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations warning that up to one million people may be displaced by the fighting as winter sets in. Even the recapture of Mosul will not mark the end of the war against ISIS, which still holds other territory in Iraq and is likely to turn increasingly to insurgent tactics such as bombings and hit-and-run attacks as it loses more ground.

War looms in Mosul tens of thousands of leaflets dropped to warn residents
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Iraqi PM signals start of operations to drive IS from Mosul
Oct 17,`16 -- Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of military operations to liberate the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State militants on Monday, launching the country on its toughest battle since American troops left nearly five years ago.
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State TV aired a brief statement in the early hours Monday announcing the start of the widely anticipated military offensive to drive IS out of Iraq's second-largest city. Broadcasts showed the prime minister, dressed in the uniform of the elite counterterrorism forces, speaking while flanked by senior military officers. "These forces that are liberating you today, they have one goal in Mosul which is to get rid of Daesh and to secure your dignity. They are there for your sake," he told the city's residents, using an alternate name for the militant group. "God willing, we shall win." The thuds of sporadic artillery shelling rumbled across the rolling Nineveh plains in the direction of Mosul, witnesses said. State TV broadcast patriotic music within minutes of the announcement.

The push to retake Mosul will be the biggest military operation in Iraq since American troops left in 2011 and, if successful, the strongest blow yet to the Islamic State. A statement on Al-Abadi's website pledged the fight for the city marked a new phase that would lead to the liberation of all Iraqi territory from the militants this year. In Washington, Defense Secretary Ash Carter called the start of Iraqi operations to liberate Mosul "a decisive moment in the campaign" to deliver a lasting defeat to the Islamic State group. Carter said the United States and other members of the international coalition "stand ready to support the Iraqi Security Forces, Peshmerga fighters and the people of Iraq in the difficult fight ahead." Iraqi forces have been massing around the city in recent days. They include members of the elite special forces, who are expected to lead the charge into the city itself.


Iraq's elite counterterrorism forces gather ahead of an operation to re-take the Islamic State-held City of Mosul, outside Irbil, Iraq. Iraqi forces appear poised to launch their most complex anti-IS operation to date: retaking the country’s second largest city of Mosul. While the country’s military has won a string of territorial victories that have pushed IS out of more than half of the territory the group once held, some Iraqi officials worry that the Mosul fight has been rushed and if the city is retaken without a plan to broker a peace, it could lead to more violence.

Mosul is home to more than a million civilians. The city fell to IS fighters during a lightning charge in June 2014 that left nearly a third of Iraq in militants' hands and plunged the country into its most severe crisis since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. After seizing Mosul, IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi visited the city to declare an Islamic caliphate that at one point covered nearly a third of Iraq and Syria. But since late last year, the militants have suffered battlefield losses in Iraq and their power in the country has largely shrunk to Mosul and small towns in the country's north and west. Mosul is about 360 kilometers (225 miles) northwest of the capital, Baghdad. The operation to retake Mosul is expected to be the most complex yet for Iraq's military, which has been rebuilding from its humiliating 2014 defeat.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a statement that the operation to regain control of Mosul could take "weeks, possibly longer." "This may prove to be a long and tough battle, but the Iraqis have prepared for it and we will stand by them," he said. Iraqi forces began moving into Nineveh province to surround Mosul in July, when ground troops led by the country's elite special forces retook Qayara air base south of the city. Thousands of Iraqi troops were deployed there ahead of the planned operation along with large numbers of tanks, armored personnel carriers and heavy artillery. The base is ringed by a series of trenches, sand berms and other fortifications.

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Old 11-07-2016, 04:48 PM   #3
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Bodies of 100 decapitated ISIS victims found in mass grave near Mosul...

Mass grave with 100 decapitated bodies found near Mosul
Nov 7, 2016 - A mass grave of 100 headless bodies has been found south of Mosul in a town that was recently recaptured from Islamic State, the Iraqi Army said on Monday.
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The grave was found in the grounds of the agricultural college in Hammam al-Alil, 15 kilometres south of Mosul, according to a statement from the army's military information office. State television said the victims appeared to have been killed recently and were likely to have been detainees who had been held and tortured by Islamic State. Their decapitated bodies had been thrown into a rubbish pit, the broadcaster said. The UN warned two weeks ago that Islamic State appeared to have killed dozens of civilians since the offensive against Mosul - the last major Iraqi urban centre held by the jihadists - was launched in mid-October.

Mass graves have previously been found in a number of areas recaptured from Islamic State, including the Sinjar district where the group massacred members of the Yezidi religious minority. Other sites held the bodies of some of the estimated 1,700 Shiite army recruits captured and killed as the group overran swathes of Iraq in 2014. Mass graves dating back to the massacres of Kurds and other opponents by former dictator Saddam Hussein - overthrown in a US-led invasion in 2003 - have also been uncovered in Iraq in recent years. The military said specialist teams were being sent to examine the scene of the latest find.

Also on Monday, Kurdish forces Monday said they had captured the Islamic State-held town of Bashiqa north-east of Mosul, two weeks after they surrounded it and cut off its jihadist defenders. A small number of snipers were still holding out in the town but it was under the control of the Peshmerga, Aziz Wisi of the Kurdish Zerevani military police said. Bashiqa lies about 13 kilometres from Mosul's eastern districts, which are already under assault by elite counter-terrorism forces answering to the central government in Baghdad.

The Peshmerga fighters were meeting less resistance than expected although there were thought to be some 60 Islamic State snipers inside the town, local commander Muhannad Sinjari said earlier. Seven militants wearing explosive belts attempted to hit the advancing Kurdish forces but were killed, Sinjari added. The Peshmerga have played a key role on Mosul's eastern and north-eastern fronts.

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Old 11-08-2016, 09:17 AM   #4
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Iraqi experts look into mass grave found near Mosul...

Iraqi experts probe mass grave site found near IS-held Mosul
Nov 8,`16 -- Iraqi investigators were probing a mass grave on Tuesday that was discovered the previous day by Iraqi troops advancing further into Islamic State-held territory near the city of Mosul.
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The chilling find was the latest instance of mass graves being uncovered in territory wrested from IS militants. In Iraq and Syria so far, the group has killed thousands of people in summary executions and extrajudicial killings, the graves a dark testimony to its brutality. Associated Press footage from the site shows bones and decomposed bodies among scraps of clothing and plastic bags dug out of the ground by a bulldozer after Iraqi troops noticed the strong smell while advancing into the town of Hamam al-Alil on Monday. "Investigators flew in this morning and are on their way to the grave to conduct examinations and determine the cause of death," said Cabinet official Haider Majeed, in charge of mass grave investigations.

The first officials at the site said the grave, behind an earthen embankment near an agricultural college, likely holds about 100 bodies, many of them decapitated. The town lies some 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Mosul. It was unclear who the victims were, but a soldier at the site pulled a child's stuffed animal from the scraps of clothing and rotting flesh, swarming with flies. IS militants have carried out a series of massacres since seizing large swaths of southern and central Iraq in the summer of 2014, often documenting them with photos and videos circulated online.


An Iraqi federal police officer holds a stuffed toy at the site of a mass grave in Hamam al-Alil, Iraq. Investigators are probing the mass grave that was discovered the previous day by troops advancing further into Islamic State-held territory near the city of Mosul. Associated Press footage from the site shows bones and decomposed bodies among scraps of clothing and plastic bags dug out of the ground by a bulldozer after Iraqi troops noticed the strong smell while advancing into the town of Hamam al-Alil.

The campaign to drive them from Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city and the extremists' last major urban stronghold in the country, began on Oct. 17. Iraqi troops and the Kurdish peshmerga forces are now converging on Mosul, although the deepest advance into an eastern sliver of the city has stalled after militants counterattacked advancing special forces from within built-up, populated areas.

To the northeast, some 13 kilometers (8 miles) from the city, the peshmerga forces continued their push on the town of Bashiqa, believed to be largely deserted except for dozens of IS fighters. Mortar fire, automatic weapons, and explosions rang out through the morning, as a thick plume of smoke hung over parts of the city, obscuring the view of aircraft.

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