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Iraq drops leaflets over west Mosul warning of imminent offensive

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A soldier of the Hashd al-Sha'abi (Popular Mobilization Units) stands guard by defensive positions near the frontline village of Ayn al-Hisan, on the outskirts of Tal Afar, west of Mosul. (Photos by AFP)

The Iraqi air force has dropped millions of leaflets on west Mosul to warn of an imminent offensive to rid the city of Daesh terrorists.

The Iraqi Defense Ministry announced that the leaflets had been dropped on the city on Saturday, adding that Iraqi forces had begun advancing towards the city.

"Your armed forces … are advancing in the direction of the right side, relying on God," read the leaflets, while calling on the terrorists to lay down their weapons and surrender.

A soldier of the Hashd al-Sha'abi (Popular Mobilization Units) poses for a picture carrying a Kalashnikov assault rifle next to an Iraqi flag at a defensive position near the frontline village of Ayn al-Hisan, on the outskirts of Tal Afar west of Mosul.

"Get ready to welcome the sons of your armed forces and to cooperate with them, as your brothers on the left side have done, in order to reduce losses and speed up the conclusion," added the leaflets.

Daesh’s last remaining stronghold in Iraq has been under siege since a coalition of forces surrounded it last month.     

The east side of the city was liberated from Daesh earlier in January as part of massive operations launched on October 17, 2016, to rid the city of the terrorists who captured it in 2014.

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On Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that armed forces would begin the ground offensive to retake western Mosul "very soon."

Meanwhile, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, has warned that some 400,000 Iraqi civilians may be displaced by operations to retake the city’s western side.

She added that troops preparing to enter the city "need to ensure that humanitarian concept of operations is adhered to, and that all of the parties to the conflict do absolutely everything they can to ensure that civilians survive the battle, and that they live," she added.

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Meanwhile, the US-led coalition claimed that it had destroyed west Mosul’s main medical center as it was being used as a command center by the terrorists.

"The coalition was able to determine through intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance efforts that Daesh did not use the building for any medical purposes and that civilians were no longer accessing the site," read a statement released on Saturday.

Soldiers of the Hashd al-Sha'abi (Popular Mobilization Units) sit in a heavily-armed vehicle near defensive positions near the frontline village of Ayn al-Hisan, on the outskirts of Tal Afar west of Mosul. 

Daesh began its campaign of terror in northern and western Iraq in 2014. Iraqi army soldiers and allied fighters are leading military operations to win back militant-held regions, trying to eliminate terrorists or driving them out of their country.

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