Iraqi forces con­sol­i­dat­ing gains in Mo­sul

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE - By Qas­sim Ab­dul-Zahra kaf­fiyeh,

MO­SUL, Iraq — Iraqi spe­cial forces mop­ping up in ter­ri­tory seized in eastern Mo­sul killed eight Is­lamic State mil­i­tants Wed­nes­day as res­i­dents fled to safety from nearby ar­eas and men shaved the beards they were forced to grow while the ex­trem­ists were in con­trol.

In the east­ern­most dis­trict of Gog­jali, shops were boarded up, with some re­duced to burned-out shells. Fam­i­lies stood in their door­ways, some hold­ing white flags, while chil­dren flashed the “V” for vic­tory sign to the pass­ing troops. A few women ul­u­lated in cel­e­bra­tion as col­umns of ve­hi­cles passed.

Con­sol­i­dat­ing the gains in the area lays the ground­work for the troops’ next stage of op­er­a­tion: en­ter­ing Mo­sul’s more ur­ban cen­tral neigh­bor­hoods, a densely built-up zone likely to con­tain booby traps and road­side bombs.

That could mean house-to-house com­bat and might take weeks, if not months, with the city cen­ter about 6 miles away.

The area’s deputy “emir” was sprawled on a cen­tral street, shot and killed by sol­diers when he tried to ap­proach them in an explosives- laden vest. Res­i­dents watched as the body, clad in a mil­i­tary uni­form, was dragged away past an Abrams tank.

A man the troops iden­ti­fied as the deputy’s su­pe­rior was ar­rested and taken away in a mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle. He wore Afghan-style cloth­ing pop­u­lar among ji­hadis and a red a hand­ker­chief worn as a head­dress.

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