Is­lamic State loses ground as forces close on Mo­sul

The Star (Kenya) - - News -

Iraqi and Kur­dish forces clos­ing in on Mo­sul said yes­ter­day they had se­cured 20 vil­lages on the out­skirts of the city in the first day of an op­er­a­tion to re­take what is Is­lamic State’s last ma­jor strong­hold in Iraq.

With around 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple still liv­ing in Mo­sul, the In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Mi­gra­tion said it was pre­par­ing gas masks in case of chem­i­cal at­tack by the ji­hadists, who used such weapons pre­vi­ously against Iraqi Kur­dish forces.

Tens of thou­sands of civil­ians could be forcibly ex­pelled, trapped be­tween fight­ing lines or used as hu­man shields, said the IOM, one of many aid or­gan­i­sa­tions to sound the alarm.

The fall of Mo­sul would sig­nal the de­feat of the ul­tra-hard­line Sunni ji­hadists in Iraq but could also lead to land grabs and sec­tar­ian blood­let­ting be­tween groups which fought one an­other after the 2003 over­throw of Sad­dam Hus­sein.

For US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, the cam­paign is a cal­cu­lated risk, with US of­fi­cials ac­knowl­edg­ing that there is no clear plan for how the re­gion around Mo­sul will be gov­erned once Is­lamic State is ex­pelled.

The Iraqi army and Pesh­merga forces from au­ton­o­mous Iraqi Kur­dis­tan be­gan mov­ing to­wards the city at dawn on Monday.

/REUTERS

Tanks move past sol­diers in mil­i­tary fa­tigues as the sun be­gins to set east of Mo­sul, where the Iraqi govern­ment launched an of­fen­sive against ISIS on Monday

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