Ira­qi for­ces ad­van­ce on to­wn whe­re Isla­mic Sta­te ac­cu­sed of exe­cu­ti­ons

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

IRAQ - US-back­ed Ira­qi for­ces mo­ved clo­ser on wed­nes­day to a to­wn south of Mo­sul whe­re aid groups and re­gi­o­nal of­fi­ci­als say Isla­mic Sta­te has exe­cu­ted do­zens of priso­ners. A mi­li­ta­ry sta­te­ment said se­cu­ri­ty for­ces ad­van­ced to the ed­ge of Ham­mam al-Alil, a ther­mal wa­ter re­sort, af­ter an eli­te unit bre­a­ched the eas­tern li­mits of Mo­sul, the ul­tra-hard­line group’s last ma­jor ci­ty strong­hold in Iraq.

The batt­le that star­ted on Oct. 17 with air and ground sup­port from a US-led co­a­li­ti­on is sha­ping up as the lar­gest in Iraq sin­ce the US-led in­va­si­on of 2003.

Mo­sul still has a po­pu­la­ti­on of 1.5 mil­li­on pe­o­p­le, much mo­re than any of the other ci­ties cap­tu­red by Isla­mic Sta­te two ye­ars ago in Iraq and neigh­bo­ring Sy­ria.

The Uni­ted Na­ti­ons ci­ted re­ports on Tues­day that Isla­mic Sta­te, which is al­so known as ISIL, is at­temp­ting to dis­pla­ce Ham­mam al-Alil’s esti­ma­ted po­pu­la­ti­on of 25,000 for use as hu­man shields and pro­tec­ti­on against air and ar­til­lery stri­kes. “We ha­ve gra­ve con­cerns for the sa­fe­ty of the­se and the tens of thou­sands of other ci­vi­lians who ha­ve re­por­ted­ly been for­ci­bly re­lo­ca­ted by ISIL in the past two weeks,” UN hu­man rights spo­kes­wo­man Ra­vi­na Sham­das­a­ni said.

The to­wn, 15 km (9 mi­les) south of Mo­sul, had a pre-war po­pu­la­ti­on of 65,000, a lo­cal of­fi­ci­al said.

Aid or­ga­ni­za­ti­ons, lo­cal of­fi­ci­als and Mo­sul re­si­dents ha­ve ci­ted re­ports that IS has exe­cu­ted do­zens of pe­o­p­le in Ham­mam al-Alil and bar­racks ne­ar­by on sus­pi­ci­on of plan­ning re­bel­li­ons in and around Mo­sul to aid the ad­van­cing troops. Ab­dul Rah­man al-Wag­gaa, a mem­ber of the Ni­ne­veh pro­vin­ci­al coun­cil, told Reu­ters last week that most of the vic­tims we­re for­mer po­li­ce and ar­my mem­bers. The men we­re shot dead, he said, quo­ting the tes­ti­mo­ny of remai­ning re­si­dents of the vil­la­ges and pe­o­p­le dis­pla­ced from the area. Se­cu­ri­ty for­ces ad­van­cing north on the wes­tern bank of the Ti­gris Ri­ver re­cap­tu­red fi­ve vil­la­ges on wed­nes­day, the clo­sest of them just 5 km (3 mi­les) from Ham­mam alA­lil, ac­cor­ding to mi­li­ta­ry sta­te­ments.

Just across the ri­ver from tho­se for­ces lie the ruins of the an­cient As­sy­ri­an ci­ty of Nim­rud, which the Ira­qi govern­ment says was bull­do­zed last year as part of Isla­mic Sta­te’s cam­paign to de­st­roy sym­bols which the Sun­ni Mus­lim ze­a­lots con­si­der ido­lat­rous. Ar­my troops hea­ding north on that si­de of the Ti­gris ha­ve yet to reach the area. (Reu­ters/photo: cloud­

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