ISIS being driven out from Mosul, Iraq

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SOURCE = Global Research

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ABC Australia

Iraq not ready to cope with humanitarian fallout from Mosul battle, aid groups say

October 18, 2016

Aid organisations are warning Iraq is woefully underprepared for the expected exodus of civilians fleeing the fighting in Mosul, and the battle could see civilian bloodshed on a massive scale. The Iraqi Army began assaulting the Islamic State (IS) stronghold this week, with Iraqi Special Forces spearheading the attack assisted by coalition air support and backed up by a 30,000-strong force of Iraqi troops. But aid groups warn that military success in Mosul could lead to a humanitarian disaster. There are grave fears for the safety of those still living in the city, as well as those trying to escape through the frontlines. Humanitarian organisations have been barred from Mosul since IS took over the city two years ago. Now they are scrambling to prepare camps and resources for the hundreds of thousands of civilians expected to flee in all directions from the city.

Distressing stories are already emerging from people escaping IS-controlled areas around Mosul. Oxfam spokesperson Amy Christian met with recently-arrived families in camps to the north of the city. “One woman told me her son and his wife snuck out of their village on a tyre — they used a tyre to float down the Tigris River to escape,” she said. “Another lady told me how she’d escaped on a boat in a similar way. They came under fire from ISIS as they tried to escape. “Sometimes ISIS let people go, other times they keep them in the village and say ‘you’re not allowed to leave and we’ll shoot you if you do’.” Ms Christian said families were leaving their homes without any possessions or supplies and were faced with long journeys through the desert on foot.

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SOURCE = Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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Reuters

U.S. forces behind front lines in Iraq’s battle to retake Mosul

October 18, 2016

The Pentagon on Monday played down any new role for U.S. forces in Iraq’s battle to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State, saying American personnel were behind the forward line of troops and acting in an advisory role to support Iraqis. “Americans are again playing an advisor role, an enabler role for these Iraqi forces … Most of the American forces in Iraq are not anywhere close to the front line,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told a news briefing, saying many U.S. troops were on advisory or logistical support missions.

“The role of the U.S. forces today is no different than up to this point.”

COPYRIGHT © = Reuters

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CBS News

U.S. forces back Iraq army’s major offensive against ISIS

October 18, 2016

The battle to retake Iraq’s second-largest city from ISIS militants is underway, as thousands of Iraqi and Kurdish fighters are advancing on villages outside Mosul. With American warplanes and Special Operations commandos providing support, the opening phase of the fight could take weeks or months. Holly Williams reports from the front line.

COPYRIGHT © = CBS News

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the-star

Iraqi forces launch offensive to recapture Mosul from Daesh

October 18, 2016

OTTAWA—Airstrikes and heavy artillery fire on the outskirts of Mosul marked the start of a long-awaited offensive as Iraqi and coalition forces launched an attack Monday to reclaim the urban stronghold held by Daesh insurgents. But as they moved forward from south and east of Mosul, they faced a determined enemy: between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters for Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL, are holed up in the city. They responded with suicide attacks and roadside bombs. It’s a battle that could stretch on for months, raising fears of street-by-street fighting in the Iraqi city of more than one million residents, as well as concerns about civilian casualties and an exodus of refugees fleeing for their lives.

Still, local leaders cheered the success of the first day’s effort to recapture the city overrun by Daesh more than two years ago. By day’s end, peshmerga forces say they had cleared nine villages over an area of 200 square kilometres and helped secure more of the main road between Mosul and Erbil. “Today at 6 a.m., we began the liberation process and it is successful so far,” said Masoud Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

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SOURCE = The Star

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Reuters

Fears of abuse as Iraq Shi’ite fighters set to storm city

October 18, 2016

Shi’ite irregulars will help storm a smaller city in northern Iraq while government troops launch their upcoming offensive against Islamic State’s biggest stronghold Mosul, raising fears among Iraqi officials and aid workers of sectarian retribution. The decision to steer the Popular Mobilisation Forces away from Mosul to Hawija 100 km (60 miles) away is intended to ease sectarian animosity during the fight for Mosul, expected to be the biggest battle in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003. The PMF units, formed from Shi’ite militia groups who now have official status from Baghdad, have been accused by the United Nations and others of carrying out killings and kidnappings in some other areas freed from Islamic State.

Their presence at the frontline is often bitterly resented by Sunni civilians in Sunni-majority areas the government hopes to free from Islamic State control, and authorities want to keep them off the battlefield in Mosul. But they are also battle-hardened fighters with powerful supporters in Baghdad, and keeping them out of the fight altogether would be politically difficult. A senior diplomat who has followed the planning for the assault on Mosul said the compromise to send the PMF to Hawija instead was the result of tough negotiations. “I don’t think that was an easy agreement,” said the senior diplomat, giving details that were not public on condition of anonymity. “There was a lot of leaning and a lot of heavy lifting by a lot of people.”

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SOURCE = Reuters

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Channel NewsAsia

Iraq launches Mosul offensive to drive out Islamic State

October 18, 2016

EAST OF MOSUL/BAGHDAD: Iraqi government forces launched a U.S.-backed offensive on Monday to drive Islamic State from the northern city of Mosul, a high-stakes battle to retake the militants’ last major stronghold in the country. Two years after the jihadists seized the city of 1.5 million people and declared a caliphate from there encompassing tracts of Iraq and Syria, a force of some 30,000 Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and Sunni tribal fighters began to advance. Helicopters released flares and explosions could be heard on the city’s eastern front, where Reuters watched Kurdish fighters move forward to take outlying villages. A U.S.-led air campaign has helped push Islamic State from much of the territory it held but 4,000 to 8,000 fighters are thought to remain in Mosul.

The Pentagon said that Iraqi forces were meeting objectives and were ahead of schedule on the first day of the offensive. Residents contacted by phone dismissed reports on Arabic television channels of an exodus by the jihadists, who have a history of using human shields and have threatened to unleash chemical weapons. “Daesh are using motorcycles for their patrols to evade air detection, with pillion passengers using binoculars to check out buildings and streets,” said Abu Maher, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. He and others contacted were preparing makeshift defences and had been stockpiling food in anticipation of the assault, which officials say could take weeks or even months. The residents withheld their full names for security reasons and Reuters was not able to verify their accounts independently.

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SOURCE = Channel News Asia

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BBC News

Mosul battle: EU ‘should prepare for returning jihadists’

October 18, 2016

The European Union should be prepared for returning jihadists if the so-called Islamic State (IS) is driven out of its Iraqi stronghold, Mosul, the EU’s security commissioner warns. Julian King told Germany’s Die Welt newspaper that even a small number of militants would pose “a serious threat that we must prepare ourselves for”. Iraqi forces launched what is expected to be a lengthy offensive on Monday. As many as 5,000 IS fighters are believed to remain in Mosul.

Government troops, moving in from the south, are currently some 40km (24 miles) from the city, while Kurdish fighters are some 30km to the east. Aid agencies are bracing themselves for what they say could be the largest man-made humanitarian crisis of recent times. Julian King, a British diplomat recently made the EU’s security commissioner, told Die Welt (in German) that the threat of IS fighters returning to Europe after the fall of Mosul was “very serious”. There were currently about 2,500 fighters from EU countries in the combat zones, he said.

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SOURCE = BBC News

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