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Iraqi forces make territorial gains against Daesh around Mosul

Tanks and armored vehicles of the Iraqi forces, supported by pro-government Hashed al-Sha’abi fighters, advance toward the village of Sheikh Younis, south of Mosul, after the offensive to retake the western side of Mosul from Daesh militants began on February 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Iraqi government forces, backed by volunteer fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, have made new territorial gains on the outskirts of the city of Mosul as they have launched a new phase of joint operations to flush Daesh Takfiri terrorists out of their last urban stronghold in the Arab country.

Commander of Nineveh Liberation Operation Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Yarallah said on Sunday that security personnel had regained control over Kantirah and Abyadh villages south of Albu Seif village on the outskirts of Mosul, located some 400 kilometers north of the capital, Baghdad, hoisting the national flag over several buildings there.

The Iraqi military commander added that government forces had inflicted heavy losses on Daesh ranks and military equipment during the operation.

Earlier, pro-government fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, had established complete control over Burnt Hills near Bakhirah village in the western suburb of Mosul.

Members of Iraqi forces, supported by pro-government Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters, prepare to advance toward the village of Sheikh Younis, south of Mosul, after the offensive to retake the western side of Mosul from Daesh terrorists began on February 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) also announced that federal police forces had retaken the villages of al-Kafour, al-Jamasah and al-Bajwari and regained control over a section of the road linking New Mosul district to Baghdad.

Lieutenant General Yarallah said in a statement that Iraqi forces had liberated the villages of Azbah and al-Lazzakah from the grip of Daesh. Iraqi government forces have also recaptured a major power plant in Lazzakah district.

The Iraqi Defense Ministry, in a statement released on Sunday, said scores of Daesh terrorists were killed as Iraqi F-16 fighter jets launched precision strikes against a number of militant hideouts in the western flank of Mosul.

The ministry also published video footage that showed several Daesh positions being struck in the area.

Late in January, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the liberation of the eastern side of Mosul, after more than 100 days of fighting against Daesh.

350,000 children trapped in western Mosul: Charity

An estimated 350,000 children are trapped in the western part of Mosul as Iraqi forces and their allies launch a fresh offensive on Daesh in the strategic city, Save the Children has warned.

Save the Children's Iraq Country Director Maurizio Crivallero said on Sunday that escape was not an option for most families, who would have to risk summary execution by Daesh militants, sniper fire and landmines, but they are also running out of food, water and medicine.

"This is the grim choice for children in western Mosul right now: bombs, crossfire and hunger if they stay, or execution and snipers if they try to run,” Crivallero said, adding, “Safe escape routes for civilians must also be established as soon as possible.”

Displaced Iraqi children queue up to be checked by a medical team during a visit to al-Agha camp, where Iraqi families from the nearby villages of Tal Afar, southwest of Mosul, are taking shelter as Iraqi forces continue their military operation to recapture Mosul from Daesh terrorists, February 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, fell into the hands of Daesh terrorists in the summer of 2014.

Iraqi army soldiers, supported by Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, launched a joint operation on October 17, 2016 to retake Mosul from Daesh.

Suspected Daesh bombings leave five dead in eastern Mosul

In another development, five people, including three Iraqi soldiers, lost their lives on Sunday, when bomb explosions ripped through two districts recently retaken from Daesh in eastern Mosul.

Security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the first attack occurred when an assailant blew up his explosive vest at an army checkpoint in Mosul’s eastern neighborhood of Nabi Younis, leaving three soldiers killed and several others wounded.

Another blast was carried out when an attacker detonated his explosive vest near a popular restaurant at a commercial area, known as My Fair Lady, in the al-Zuhour neighborhood of eastern Mosul. The blast left two civilians dead and several others wounded.

The bombings came as Iraq's prime minister announced earlier on Sunday the start of a new phase of a major offensive to free the western side of Mosul from Daesh terrorists.

“We announce the start of a new phase in the operation to liberate the western side of Mosul [known as We Are Coming Nineveh]. Our main task is to liberate the people before liberating the land,” Abadi said in a brief televised address.

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