Dis­rupted by airstrikes

Town near Mo­sul taken by troops

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

Iraqi forces pushed into a town south of Mo­sul yes­ter­day af­ter ISIS fight­ers fled with civil­ians used as hu­man shields.

Iraqi troops ap­proach­ing Mo­sul from the south ad­vanced into Shura af­ter a wave of airstrikes and ar­tillery shelling against mil­i­tant po­si­tions in­side the town.

Com­man­ders said most of the ISIS fight­ers with­drew ear­lier this week with civil­ians, but that US airstrikes had dis­rupted the forced march, al­low­ing some civil­ians to es­cape.

“Af­ter all this shelling, I don’t think we will face much re­sis­tance,” said Iraqi army Maj Gen Na­jim Al Jabouri. “This is easy, be­cause there are no civil­ians left. The big chal­lenge for us is al­ways the civil­ians.”

Lt Col Hus­sein Nazim of the mil­i­tarised Fed­eral Po­lice, which is lead­ing the ad­vance from the south, said some civil­ians, mainly the el­derly and in­firm, might still be in the city, but that the use of heavy ar­tillery and airstrikes was a stan­dard tac­tic.

“We must strike like this be­fore we move in or else we will be easy prey for Daesh,” he said, us­ing an Ara­bic acro­nym for ISIS.

Iraqi forces launched a mas­sive op­er­a­tion to re­take mil­i­tant-held Mo­sul last week.

The of­fen­sive to re­take Iraq’s sec­ond largest city, which is still home to more than one mil­lion peo­ple, is ex­pected to take weeks, if not months.

State- sanc­tioned Shia mili­tias mean­while launched an as­sault to the west of Mo­sul aimed at driv­ing ISIS from the town of Tel Afar, which had a ma­jor­ity Shia pop­u­la­tion be­fore it fell to the mil­i­tants in the sum­mer of 2014.

They will also try to se­cure the west­ern bor­der with Syria, where ISIS shut­tles fight­ers, weapons and sup­plies be­tween Mo­sul and the Syr­ian city of Raqqa, the de facto cap­i­tal of its self-styled caliphate.

The of­fen­sive in­volves more than 25,000 sol­diers, Fed­eral Po­lice, Kur­dish fight­ers, Sunni tribes­men and the Shia mili­tias.

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