Operation to free northwestern Mosul resumes after civilian evacuations

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Iraqi military authorities on Friday resumed their fight to fully liberate northwestern Mosul from ISIS militants, after halting operations for four hours to secure evacuation of families, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Seven months into the Mosul campaign, ISIS has been driven out from all but a handful of districts in the city’s western half including the Old City, where it is using hundreds of thousands of civilians as human shields.

The northwestern corner of Mosul includes the historic Old City center, the medieval Grand al-Nuri Mosque, and its landmark leaning minaret where the ISIS black flag has been flying since June 2014.

Iraqi anti-terrorism units are trying to recapture Al-Islah Al-Zira’i neighborhood, and some its units are readying to storm Al-Oraibi, Al-Rifa'i, Al-Najar localities to isolate Al-Zinjeeli and 17 of July neighborhoods, considered to be ISIS's most dangerous strongholds.

The anti-terrorism units said they destroyed 13 booby-trapped cars, which ISIS tried to launch at the entrance of Al-Islah Al-Zira’i and Al-Siha neighborhoods to prevent civilians from leaving.

Iraq’s Defense Ministry has recently announced that Baghdad wants to liberate the northern city of Mosul before the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan for Muslims in late May.

On Friday, the Iraqi forces continued to advance in the right side of Mosul in Al-Iqtisadiyeen neighborhood northwest of Mosul.

Mosul is separated by the Tigris River, making the left bank on the eastern side as the left side while the right bank on the western side as the right side.

ISIS is continuing its targeting of civilians who are trying to leave. Military sources said that the militant group has committed yet another massacre in the western side of Mosul when it executed 17 families who were attempting to evacuate.

Intelligence source said so far 60 people, including women and children, have been killed when trying to leave areas still under ISIS control.

Operation near Syria border

The Iraqi army forces also carried out a tactical operation to comb and search the desert areas west of Anbar province. The forces launched its defensive operation at a depth of 100 kilometers from the desert west of Al Anbar, during which dozens of ISIS militia were killed.

Spokesman Karim al-Nouri said the target of the operation was the Qairawan and Baaj areas about 100 km west of Mosul, where US-backed Iraqi forces are advancing in their campaign to rout the militants from city.

ISIS is losing territory and on the retreat in both Iraq and Syria.

(With Reuters)