Sabato, 03 Dicembre, 2016

Iraq, Kurds brace for massive influx from Mosul

Iraqi forces prepare during an offensive to retake Mosul from Daesh terrorists outside the strategic city Iraqi forces prepare during an offensive to retake Mosul from Daesh terrorists outside the strategic city
Rufina Vignone | 19 Ottobre, 2016, 23:18

The fall of Mosul would signal the defeat of the ultra-hardline Sunni jihadists in Iraq but could also lead to land grabs and sectarian bloodletting between groups that fought one another after the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

U.N. humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien told the U.N. Security Council that no large-scale displacement of civilians has been reported since the operation began.

"Despite all the uproar on Western TV channels, the operation hasn't started in earnest yet", Gen. Valery Gerasimov said.

He said: "we hope that our partners from the worldwide coalition realize what could be the consequences of large groups of IS fighters roaming the Mideast region. Give them over", one woman said, in anger and fear.

The push to retake Mosul from Daesh had not yet not forced a major number of civilians to flee, the United Nations emergency aid office (OCHA) said in its latest situation report, 26 hours into the operation.

Adding US attack helicopter crews to the unfolding combat is an extra element of risk for American troops.

The Apaches were being used at night to strike targets from a distance, and their presence was a confidence booster for Iraqi soldiers, Volesky said.

Volesky is commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division. He predicted IS would put up a stiff defense in the city but eventually lose and morph into an insurgency.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Tuesday that the fighters who were trained at the Bashiqa camp near Mosul were at the forefront of the Mosul operation, fighting alongside Kurdish forces. "That place at the moment is Mosul - therefore we will be in Mosul". Now, faced with punishing airstrikes by the US -led coalition, the fighters have been forced to change tactics, melting into civilian populations and building networks of tunnels under residential areas so they could move without being seen from above.

"We have achieved our objectives", he said.

News of the move to recapture Qaraqosh sparked jubilation among Christians who had fled the town, with many dancing and singing in the city of Arbil.

It said there are just 16 toilets shared by more than 9,000 people, many of whom only have access to dirty, untreated water.

Tarik Kadir, head of Save the Children's response to the Mosul crisis, says that "conditions there are among the worst we've seen, and we expect thousands more people to be on their way soon".

The "caliphate" that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed in Mosul's Great Mosque in June 2014 once covered more than a third of Iraq and parts of Syria.

Many civilians have been able to flee the wider Mosul region to safer areas, with some desperate enough to seek refuge over the border in war-torn Syria. Kinik says his organization was working with officials in northern Iraq and the Iraqi Red Crescent to help support humanitarian efforts there.

Lt Gen Talib Shaghati told reporters at a military base that up to 6,000 IS fighters are inside the city.

This farming village east of Mosul was turned into a bunker during more than two years of Islamic State group rule: A network of tunnels and cramped living quarters betrays an extremist group increasingly forced to operate underground by a punishing air campaign and mounting territorial losses. After a string of victories over the past year, Iraqi ground forces have pushed ISIS out of more than half the territory the group once held in Iraq, with close support from the USA -led coalition.

Iraqi forces, backed by US-led coalition airstrikes, launched a much-awaited offensive late Sunday to retake Mosul - the last ISIL stronghold in northern Iraq, which was overrun by the terrorist group in 2014.

"They're making sure that whenever the operation to retake the city commences it will be extremely hard for the security forces to do so", Martin said, adding that while there are reports of some IS fighters fleeing Mosul, the group has also displayed a willingness to defend the city by mobilizing auto bombs, suicide bombers and building trenches.

Project manager Prezzo Mikael said on Wednesday that the camp is almost complete, with running water, electricity and food.

Senior officers said the fighting could take weeks and France's defence minister spoke of months. In one newly-freed village on the outskirts of Mosul, people have fled in panic as rumors swirled that ISIS was coming back.

It said about 5,000 of them had reached the Al-Hol camp over the past 10 days.

Iraqi authorities have called on people to remain in their homes, but are also preparing humanitarian corridors for them to escape the fighting.

Attacking Iraqi forces are still 12 to 30 miles (20 to 50 km) from the city itself and USA officials believe that Islamic State is most likely to use chemical weapons later in the campaign, in what could be a hard, protracted battle.

Over the past day, IS sent 12 vehicle bombs, all of which were blown up before reaching their targets, he said, adding that Iraqi troops suffered a small number of casualties from the mortar rounds.

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