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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Islamic State captures police colonel and 8 officers in Mosul

(March 21) During fierce clashes in the Old City of Mosul early Monday Islamic State (IS) fighters captured an Iraqi police colonel and eight other officers as they ran out of ammunition according to an Iraqi Interior Ministry official.

The officers were captured about 3 in the morning in the Bab Jadid district in Mosul. The whereabouts of the officers is not known. The eastern half of the city has already been liberated but they are now battling in the Old City in western Mosul. The offensive on Mosul began about the middle of October last year and on western Mosul this February.The recent battles have been described in a Digital Journal article. Many thousands of civilians remain trapped in the area under IS control. The center of Old Mosul is home to the Al-Nuri mosque where IS leader Abu al_Baghdadi had declared a caliphate in territory controlled by the IS, in July of 2014. There are many narrow alleys in the area that military vehicles cannot enter. An extensive account of the Mosul offensive can be found here.
The Iraqi government now estimates that already 180,000 civilians have fled from Mosul. The government claims that there is enough room for 100,000 more at displacement camps. However, many refugees are having a difficult time finding accommodations. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is in Washington meeting with US President Donald Trump and other officials. He was promised that US support would not only continue but will accelerate. Many terrorist attacks are launched outside of the main battle area. A suicide car bomber in Baghdad killed 23 and wounded 45 more.
As the battle reaches more densely populated areas airstrikes cause many civilian casualties. As an article notes:Families fleeing Mosul in recent weeks have talked of high numbers of civilians killed by air strikes, and said that in many cases Islamic State fighters have already slipped away by the time the bombs hit.
'When the coalition see a sniper on a home, it's five or ten minutes before that house is hit,' Mohammed Mahmoud, a 40-year-old former police officer, told Reuters in another area of Mosul.
The appended video shows some of the cases where civilians were hit by bombing. The Islamic State fighters no doubt try to use the civilians as human shields. Snipers on civilian houses appear to be targeted by bombing attacks if the video is to be believed.


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