Ahead of sched­ule’ in bid to re­take city

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Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Mon­day, but have an­other 70 to re­take be­fore reach­ing the city’s out­skirts.

Our cor­re­spon­dent adds that they have been meet­ing some re­sis­tance, with rocket-fire killing a mem­ber of an Iraqi army tank crew overnight.

Kur­dish forces were mean­while hold­ing their po­si­tions in the Khazer area, com­man­der Col Kathar Sheikhan was quoted by the As­so­ci­ated Press news agency as say­ing.

Be­tween 3,000 and 5,000 IS fight­ers re­main in Mo­sul, the Pen­tagon es­ti­mates.

As the fight­ing gets closer to the city, con­cerns have been raised for the safety of civil­ians still trapped in the area.

An Iraq-Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist who has been on the out­skirts of Mo­sul and has rel­a­tives in the city said telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies had re­stored mo­bile phone ser­vice there on Mon­day.

Steven Na­bil said this was en­abling res­i­dents to get the lat­est on the of­fen­sive, and also to pro­vide in­valu­able in­tel­li­gence to gov­ern­ment forces on the lo­ca­tions of IS mil­i­tants.

He said peo­ple there were feel­ing a mix of “ex­cite­ment” at the prospect of lib­er­a­tion but also “stress and worry” about how IS would treat them and fear that they might get hit by an air strike or caught up in cross­fire.

Mr Cook said he be­lieved as many as 7 mil­lion leaflets would be dropped over Mo­sul since the week­end that ex­plained to res­i­dents “the safest way to con­duct them­selves as this fight­ing plays out”.

About 30,000 pro-gov­ern­ment troops are in­volved in the op­er­a­tion. The main as­sault is be­ing led by Iraqi army troops.

About 4,000 Kur­dish fight­ers are try­ing to clear vil­lages to the east of Mo­sul, to al­low the army to move in.

US Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions per­son­nel are ad­vis­ing forces on the ground. Elite Iraqi coun­tert­er­ror­ism forces are ex­pected to join in the com­ing days.

The UN High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees has is­sued an ap­peal for an ad­di­tional $61m to pro­vide tents, camps, and win­ter items such as blan­kets for dis­placed peo­ple in­side Iraq and the two neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

UN hu­man­i­tar­ian chief Stephen O’Brien said: “I am ex­tremely con­cerned for the safety of up to 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing in Mo­sul who may be im­pacted.”

Many are ex­pected to be caught in the fight­ing. There are fears that res­i­dents could be used as hu­man shields by IS.

As many as a mil­lion peo­ple could be forced to flee their homes.

Most are ex­pected to leave “with only the clothes on their backs,” Becky Bakr Ab­dulla of the Nor­we­gian Refugee Coun­cil told the AFP news agency.

Im­posters sneak on to Rio 2016 float in Manch­ester pa­rade

Two im­posters sneaked on to a float dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tory Rio 2016 pa­rade in Manch­ester, the Bri­tish Olympic As­so­ci­a­tion has con­firmed.

The pair, dressed in Team GB track­suits and wear­ing plas­tic medals, ad­mit­ted toSky News they “blagged” their way on to the float and joined the cel­e­bra­tions.

The float was car­ry­ing Bri­tain’s gold medal-win­ning women’s hockey team and ath­letes from the mod­ern pen­tathlon.

The BOA said: “It didn’t spoil any­one’s en­joy­ment of a won­der­ful event.”

“We are aware of the mat­ter and are dis­ap­pointed any­one would want to de­tract from the ath­letes’ cel­e­bra­tion,” it added.

Four hun­dred ath­letes took part in the Manch­ester cel­e­bra­tions with more 150,000 peo­ple lin­ing the streets.

Greater Manch­ester Po­lice said it did not pro­vide se­cu­rity for the floats and had re­ceived no re­ports re­gard­ing the in­ci­dent. Manch­ester City Coun­cil is yet to com­ment. Team GB set an Olympic record in Rio 2016 by win­ning 67 medals two more than they man­aged at Lon­don 2012.

The Par­a­lympians also beat their pre­vi­ous per­for­mance with 147 medals - 27 more than four years ago.

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