Monday, November 7, 2016
ISIS use of human shields "greatest concern" as troops move into Mosul city
Major General Najim Jebouri told Rudaw in an exclusive interview Sunday that militants use of civilians as human shields remains the army's "greatest concern", which according to him, had slowed down the incursion.
"It will certainly be more difficult to engage with the Daesh terrorists inside the city itself since they won't hesitate using innocent civilians as protection," General Jebouri said.
"They used thousands of women and children as human shields over the past few days in other areas that are now under army control," the general said referring to the army recapture of the township of Hammam Alil south of Mosul where many families had been trapped inside the town before ISIS militants abandoned the area Sunday night.
With Hammam Alil in amy control, the Iraqi and Kurdish forces have now tighten their grip on the Mosul city itself. Jebouri said the military and Peshmerga troops had now taken positions at a distance of about five kilometres from the city.
"Hammer Alil was an important location for the Daesh who used the town to provide protection for the city of Mosul itself, but now they have lost it and they have nothing else to hold on to south of the city," Jebouri said.
It has been difficult to estimate how many civilians still reside in Mosul, after ISIS invasion in June 2014, which is Iraq's second largest city with over 1,7 million people.
Iraqi and Kurdish officials say around 800,000 people have fled Mosul over the past two years which could mean that an estimated one million people are still in the locked down Sunni stronghold.
Mosul city has also had a sizeable Kurdish community of nearly half a million people, residing predominantly in north and east of the city, the majority of which are believed to have remained in their homes even after ISIS occupation.
"There's a splendid coordination between Iraqi troops and Peshmerga units everywhere in Nineveh where our forces fight the Daesh shoulder to shoulder," Jebouri said, praising coalition airstrikes targeting ISIS positions in the area.
According to Jebouri except for Mosul city and the nearby township of Tal Afar, ISIS has only "handful of villages" under its control near Mosul which the general said would be recaptured in the coming days before army's full incursion into Mosul city.
"There are basically no other places left under Daesh rule in Nineveh and God willing our remaining target will be Mosul itself," he added.
Posted by wikisabah at 5:35:00 PM