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Iraq's Hashd retakes important area on Syria border

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)
The capture by Hashd al-Shaabi forces The capture of Baaj shrinks the area under control of Daesh terrorists in the border region between Iraq and Syria.

Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), commonly known as Hashd al-Shaabi, has liberated al-Ba’aj District in Nineveh Province from the grip of the Daesh terrorist group.

The important area is located near the Syrian border. Al-Sumaria TV said the full liberation of Ba’aj and several nearby villages on Sunday came following fierce clashes with Daesh elements.

The fresh gain shrinks the area under the Daesh control in the border region between Iraq and Syria, where Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to be hiding, according to Iraqi and US sources.

Bodies litter streets of Mosul 

A multi-ethnic humanitarian group says the Daesh terrorist group has killed dozens of civilians in the past two days while they were fleeing the embattled city of Mosul.

Dave Eubank, from the Free Burma Rangers (FBR), told Reuters on Saturday that the bodies of the victims who were escaping from west Mosul’s Zanjili neighborhood lay on the ground near the frontline with Iraqi forces.

"Over the past two days ISIS (Daesh) has been shooting people escaping this area," he said, adding, "I saw over 50 dead bodies yesterday … and we rescued one little girl and one man. But there are still more."

Smoke billows from the Zanjili neighborhood in west Mosul on June 3, 2017, during battles between Iraqi forces and Daesh terrorists. (Photo by AFP)

Meanwhile, a young man said he was among a group of civilians wounded in an airstrike that targeted a Daesh element hiding in the crowd.

"We were a group of 200-250 civilians, a Daesh came in among us and the aviator hit us… but he (the militant) escaped," he said.

In a relevant development early on Saturday, Iraqi federal police forces seized a huge cache of deadly weapons, including hundreds of explosive shells, which were left by Daesh terrorists in recently-liberated parts of Zanjili.

The explosives were transported to a large crater before detonation.

Separately, Staff Lieutenant General Abdulghani al-Assadi, a high-ranking commander of Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), told the al-Sumaria TV network early on Sunday that Daesh militants holed up in Mosul should either surrender or will be killed badly.

Iraqi forces “stand on the outer fence of the Old City [of Mosul], our accounts will be settled with these bastards,” Assadi said.

“If Mosul was free of civilians, the liberation of the right and left coasts would have been completed by less than a month, but we have sought to preserve the citizens, which delayed the process,” he added.

Iraqis leave the Zanjili neighborhood in west Mosul on June 3, 2017, during battles between Iraqi forces and Daesh terrorists. (Photo by AFP)

Earlier this week, Iraqi forces managed to wrest control over west Mosul’s al-Saha al-Oula district.

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About 700,000 people have already fled Mosul, but up to 200,000 civilians are still trapped in harrowing conditions in the city’s Daesh-controlled areas, most of them in the Old City.

Mosul fell to Daesh in 2014, when the terror outfit began a campaign of death and destruction in Iraq.

Since October 2016, the Iraqi army soldiers and allied volunteer fighters have been leading a major operation to recapture the city.

They took control of eastern Mosul in January and launched the battle in the west in February.

The full liberation of the city would likely spell the end for the Iraqi half of Daesh's so-called caliphate.

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