IRAQ Forces prepare to take western side of Mosul
Iraqi planes dropped millions of leaflets on the western side of Mosul warning residents that the battle to dislodge Islamic State forces is imminent as troops began moving in their direction, the Defense Ministry said Saturday.
The militants are essentially under siege in western Mosul, along with an estimated 650,000 civilians, after U.S.-backed forces surrounding the city forced them from the east in the first phase of an offensive begun in October to dislodge the extremist group from its last major urban stronghold.
The leaflets said the troops had begun advancing toward western Mosul. “Your armed forces . . . are advancing in the direction of the right side, relying on God,” read one of the leaflets. Other leaflets warned Islamic State members to “lay down their weapons and surrender.”
Separately, the U.S.-led military coalition said Saturday that its forces had destroyed a building in the main medical complex of western Mosul that was suspected of housing an Islamic State command center. The militant group disputed that assertion, saying in an online statement that Friday’s strike had killed 18 people, mostly women and children, and wounded 47 others.