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Iraqi forces battle Daesh in heavy west Mosul fighting

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Author: AFPMon, 2017-03-06ID: 1488751674684467400MOSUL: Iraqi forces battled Daesh in hours of heavy clashes in west Mosul on Sunday, as the number of people who fled fighting in the area topped 45,000.Iraqi forces have recaptured several areas in west Mosul since launching the push to retake it on Feb. 19, but their pace has slowed amid bad weather which muddies streets and makes air support more difficult.West Mosul is the largest urban population center still held by Daesh, followed by the city of Raqqa in Syria and the town of Tal Afar, which is located between Mosul and the Syrian border.The fall of west Mosul would effectively mark the demise of Daesh’s cross-border “state,” but the threat posed by the militants would still be far from over.Black smoke billowed over west Mosul on Sunday as Iraqi forces battled Daesh in a fight marked by explosions and continual automatic weapons fire.In the course of the fighting, security forces targeted an approaching Daesh car bomb, detonating it and sending a fireball rising over the area, and also fired on a militant drone flying overhead.“Rapid Response forces are moving toward important governmental buildings such as the governorate building and the police directorate,” Lt. Col. Abdulamir Al-Mohammedawi, a member of the elite Interior Ministry unit, told AFP.The militants are using snipers, mortars and bombs planted in streets and houses, Mohammedawi said.Al-Dawasa, which includes the Nineveh province governor’s headquarters and other government buildings was among several areas assaulted by Iraqi forces on Sunday.The Joint Operations Command said the Rapid Response forces and federal police were attacking Al-Dindan and Al-Dawasa, while the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) assaulted Al-Sumood and Tal Al-Rumnan.Lt. Gen. Raed Shakir Jawdat later said in a statement that police — presumably along with forces from the Rapid Response Division — had advanced to within “dozens of meters” of the government buildings in Al-Dawasa.The CTS and Rapid Response are two special forces units that have spearheaded most of the advances in the Mosul area.The Iraqi Army is also taking part in the fight for west Mosul, with the 9th Armored Division advancing through the desert surrounding the city, aiming to cut if off from Tal Afar, farther west.More than 45,000 people have fled west Mosul since the push to retake it began, while over 200,000 are currently displaced as a result of the battle to retake the city, which was launched on Oct. 17, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Main category: Middle-East

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