With the start of the second week of operations aimed at liberating the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from Daesh, Iraq’s top anti-terror commander says military forces have started targeting the terror outfit’s positions inside the city with artillery fire.
Abdul-Ghani Asadi, the commander of the Iraqi army’s anti-terrorism contingent, made the announcement on Monday.
Iraqi forces have, meanwhile, liberated more than 70 percent of the territory lying to the south of the Daesh-held northern city of Mosul, and are weeding out explosives planted by the terrorist group on their way to the city proper.
On Tuesday, the joint military and volunteer forces liberated three more villages, located to the city’s south, from Daesh, the country’s war news media reported, with Tweeter pictures showing children rejoicing after the areas’ liberation.
Assisting the liberation operations, Turkish Peshmerga fighters also retook three more villages, namely Khoursabad in the Narwan region, Batnaya in the Tel Kaif district, and Assaf, all located around Mosul.
Security forces also took back a gas plant in Tal Kaif and entirely liberated the heart of the district.
Mosul-based Daesh militants have, meanwhile, filled up trenches with oil and set them on fire in order to block the overflying aircraft’s field of vision. In one incident, they threw nine of their defectors in one of the burning trenches in Mosul’s al-Arabi neighborhood, killing them.
Footage also showed a military Abrams tank ripping through a bomb-laced Daesh vehicle, which had been left at one entrance to the city to block the forces’ advance.
Overwhelmed by casualties, the Takfiris threw 40 bedridden patients, most of them elderly, out of the Mosul General Hospital, filling its aisles and emergency ward with their own wounded members, Iraq’s al-Sumaria TV network reported.
Locals, meanwhile, said the bodies of most of the victims of the city’s clashes had been taken to the al-Qabat district, situated in the city’s east.
On Monday, Iraqi forces were engaged in a push toward the center of the strategically-important al-Hamdaniya district in the northeast of Iraq’s Nineveh Province, of which Mosul is the capital, as part of the larger-scale push to retake Mosul.
Large numbers of the terrorists are, meanwhile, reported to have fled Mosul as the group is said to have lost the power to confront the advancing Iraqi forces.
The Takfiri terror group has declared the city its so-called headquarters in Iraq. The city has been under Daesh control since 2014, when the terror outfit started ravaging the country.
Also on Tuesday, a Kurdish journalist captured footage of a jet fighter destroying a Daesh car bomb north of Mosul as it was heading toward the Peshmerga forces in Nawaran.
Reports of horror emerging
The UN human rights office said it had preliminary reports about scores of mass killings by Daesh around Mosul in the past week.
UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a regular UN briefing in Geneva that the bodies of 70 civilians with bullet wounds had been discovered by Iraqi security forces in the Tuloul Naser Village on October 20, and 50 former police officers being held outside the city had also reportedly been killed.
Fifteen civilians were killed and their bodies thrown into the river in the nearby Safina Village, while six men were tied to a vehicle and dragged around the village, the official said.
He said there were reports that Daesh fighters had also shot dead three women and three girls and wounded four other children because they were lagging behind during a forced relocation due to one of the children’s disability.
A Turkish “if”
Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said Ankara could launch a “ground operation” in Iraq if it is threatened.
“If there is a threat posed to Turkey, we are ready to use all our resources, including a ground operation…, to eliminate that threat,” Cavusoglu said in an interview with Kanal 24 broadcaster.
He did not explain what could constitute a “threat” to the Turkish state. Kurds, including those in Iraq, have long been considered by Ankara to be “terrorists.” Turkey has been hitting their positions, as well as those of Kurdish forces in Syria, with airstrikes for some time.
Daesh, too, may be a source of such a threat. Ankara said this week it had already hit Daesh positions with its artillery at the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq.
But Cavusoglu’s remarks may also be directed at the Iraqi military. Officials in Baghdad, who are engaged in a war of words with the Turks over unauthorized Turkish military deployments to their territory, recently said the Iraqi military may target the Turkish forces if the latter interfere in the ongoing battle for Mosul.
Area freed in Anbar
Meanwhile, Suhaib al-Rawi, the governor of the vast western Iraqi province of Anbar, has also said that security forces have fully liberated the province’s al-Rutba district, raising the national flag over the district governor’s building there