Iraqi com­man­ders say IS fam­i­lies have joined Mo­sul

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

MO­SUL, Iraq — Iraqi com­man­ders say fe­male Is­lamic State mil­i­tants are fir­ing on their forces and us­ing chil­dren as hu­man shields as the ex­trem­ist group de­fends its last sliver of Mo­sul’s Old City.

The mil­i­tants’ use of hu­man shields has re­peat­edly slowed Iraqi ad­vances through­out the nearly nine-month of­fen­sive to re­take the coun­try’s se­cond largest city, and the com­man­ders’ frus­tra­tion was on dis­play as they watched sur­veil­lance footage from the front lines.

“The women are fight­ing with their chil­dren right be­side them,” Lt. Gen. Sami al-Aridi said as he was briefed by an of­fi­cer hold­ing a tablet com­puter show­ing drone im­agery. “It’s mak­ing us hes­i­tant to use airstrikes, to ad­vance. If it weren’t for this we could be fin­ished in just a few hours.” An­other of­fi­cer in the com­mand post sug­gested us­ing Iraqi ar­tillery, which would not re­quire ap­proval from the U.S.-led coali­tion. “They’re all Daesh, just kill them all,” the com­man­der said, re­fer­ring to the IS group by its Ara­bic acro­nym.

“For a child, even if his fa­ther is a crim­i­nal, what has he done?” alAridi said. “At the same time, my men are still tak­ing ca­su­al­ties. We had 14 wounded to­day al­ready.”

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