IS Chief told fighters to flee, hide or launch attacks

Violet Powell
March 2, 2017

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi claimed territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014, according to Reuters.

Over 28,000 people have fled since the start of a drive to retake west Mosul, as Iraqi forces closed in Wednesday on a road linking the city with a Daesh-held town to the west.

"We are closer than we think", Kelsey said.

Meanwhile, the British deputy commander of the US-led coalition military operation against IS has predicted a "grinding" fight to retake the rest of Mosul.

US personnel are operating close to the frontlines to direct air strikes.

US-backed Iraqi army units yesterday took control of the last major road out of western Mosul which had been in the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), trapping the militants in a shrinking area within the city.

Iraqi forces captured eastern Mosul in January, after 100 days of fighting.

Iraqi government forces backed by the US-led coalition managed to prevent a counter-attack by Isis militants in southwestern Mosul early on Thursday (2 March).

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"The coalition supported Turkey and their partner-force efforts in al-Bab with more than 50 airstrikes, taking fighters off the battlefield, destroying [vehicle-borne homemade bombs], mortar and artillery pieces and denying the enemy use of dozens of vehicles, buildings, excavation equipment and weapons caches", he said.

A further 85,000 people can be housed within prepared emergency camps and shelters, while some 400,000 civilians can flee the battle zone as the offensive continues, according to United Nations estimates, while roughly 750,000 people remain trapped in war-torn western Mosul.

A chilling letter written by a schoolboy to his parents before he blew himself up in a suicide attack has been found in an Islamic State training compound in Iraq.

In October 2016, Iraqi troops began the ground offensive on Mosul.

The people fleeing western Mosul are "often exhausted and dehydrated", the OCHA statement said, adding that an estimated 250,000 people could flee the fighting in the coming days. "They booby trapped our homes and our cars", said an old woman.

As the battle to seize western Mosul rages on, Iraqi militants and government troops pounded an ISIS meeting about 70 kilometers (43 miles) away, killing and injuring dozens, said the media office for the Popular Mobilization Unit, or PMU.

Roughly 14,000 people have been displaced from the recent fighting in the western half of the city so far. USA personnel are operating close to the frontlines to direct air strikes.

The Iraqi soldiers climbed through a hole in the wall of a garden strewn with ripe oranges and shattered glass, and emerged to find an Islamic State fighter lying flat on his back where he had been killed by Iraqi forces. "I take her to the camp's hospital, but they are not able to cure my child", Younis told RT.

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