Mo­sul car bombs tar­get Iraqi troops

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY'S TOP NEWS - By Qas­sim Ab­dul-Zahra

Iraqi troops en­coun­tered the heav­i­est clashes yet with Is­lamic State group fight­ers Sun­day in western Mo­sul since the start of the new push more than two weeks ago, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior com­man­der.

Maj. Gen. Haider al-Ma- turi of the Fed­eral Po­lice Com­man­dos Di­vi­sion told The As­so­ci­ated Press that IS mil­i­tants dis­patched at least six sui­cide car bombs, which were all de­stroyed be­fore reach­ing the troops. The mil­i­tants, he said, are mov­ing from house to house and de­ploy­ing snipers.

The wave of heavy re­sis­tance comes as Iraqi forces launched at­tacks against IS-held neigh­bor­hoods in western Mo­sul from three points Sun­day morn­ing. The Fed­eral Po­lice are clos­ing in on the city’s main gov­ern- ment com­plex in the Dawasa neighborhood and Iraq’s spe­cial forces are at­tempt­ing to push into the Shuhada and Man­sour neigh­bor­hoods.

IS fight­ers have “some mor­tar (teams) and snipers po­si­tioned in­side homes,” said Iraqi spe­cial forces Maj. Ali Talib, ex­plain­ing that U.S.- led coali­tion airstrikes have helped de­stroy some of the IS de­fenses, but clashes are still on­go­ing.

Al-Ma­turi, of the fed­eral po­lice, said his troops are now some 500 me­ters away from the gov­ern­ment com­plex.

Also on Su n day, The Hague, Nether­lands-based Or­ga­ni­za­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons said in a state­ment the or­ga­ni­za­tion was “se­ri­ously con­cerned” about re­ports of chem­i­cal weapons use in Mo­sul.

“The OPCW has asked Iraqi au­thor­i­ties for more in­for­ma­tion and has of­fered its as­sis­tance to the Iraqi investigation,” the state­ment said.

The al­leged at­tack oc­curred last week in a neighborhood along the Ti­gris River in east­ern Mo­sul, an area de­clared fully lib­er­ated by Iraqi forces in Jan­uary. Hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials said 10 pa­tients were ad­mit­ted for ex­po­sure and would be dis­charged in the com­ing days.

The United Na­tions warned that the al­leged use of chem­i­cal weapons, if con­firmed, would be a war crime and a se­ri­ous vi­o­la­tion of in­ter­na­tional hu­man­i­tar­ian law.

KHALID MO­HAMMED / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Iraqi civil­ians flee their homes in Mo­sul due to fight­ing there be­tween Iraqi se­cu­rity forces and Is­lamic State mil­i­tants Sun­day.

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